Most medicines have an expiration date, and if you take a prescription a few days after that date, it might no longer be effective or potent. Some medicines, such as antihistamines, can be safely taken for years after their expiration date. Most medicines are not toxic, but some can go bad after they’ve expired. In general, medicines should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, heat, or humidity. Exposure to direct sunlight can cause medicines to melt or become ineffective.
Medicine expiration dates may also be called “use by” or “best used by” dates. They indicate the last time the medicine was manufactured and include the actual month and year in which the medicine was manufactured. Different packaging offers different levels of protection, and some contain desiccants to enhance their stability. The best storage location depends on how well the medicine can remain stable. Keep in mind that bathrooms and kitchens are usually not suitable places to store medicines, since extreme temperatures and humidity affect their quality.
To keep medicines safe for the longest possible time, the FDA requires manufacturers to include a medicine expiration date on their packaging. Expiry dates are important because exposure to moisture, oxygen, sunlight, and other environmental factors can cause decomposition of the active ingredients in the medication. Drugs that are older than 15 years can still be effective. By ensuring they’re safe, you’ll avoid costly mistakes. You can also use expired drugs to save money.
If you need to use expired medicines, make sure to replace them with the newest versions. Expired medications may have new warnings and dosing instructions. The strength may also have changed, reducing the chance of errors. Also, there might be a new dosing device or packaging that prevents children from accessing it. Regardless of the expiration date, it’s still important to replace medications as they are no longer effective and pose risks.
While drug manufacturers acknowledge that medicine expiration dates are a commercial concern, they say extending the shelf life of products is better for the public health and could save them millions of dollars. Drug manufacturers would save millions of dollars each year by extending the shelf life of their medications. This method of storage is more cost-effective for them and patients. It will allow them to introduce new drugs to the market with more ease. It also enables them to test new medications more thoroughly before putting them on the market.
While this approach is useful, it’s also important to note that extending the shelf life of medicines has its drawbacks. For example, when a drug is past its expiration date, the molecules may be degraded and no longer offer the intended benefit. The resulting toxic compounds may have unintended side effects on patients. These risks are particularly important for those suffering from serious diseases. However, the FDA does conduct tests on drugs with expired dates to increase their shelf life.