Are you the one who stores a lot of drugs in a cabinet of your house?

 Do you suspect that any of those drugs you store are older than Methuselah?

Do you think that if you take an outdated medication by carelessness, you will die next with horrible suffering?

 If you have answered YES to any of these questions, this publication is addressed to you.

We are going to define first, what exactly is the expiration date to which the laboratories and pharmaceutical companies refer.

They refer with expiration date, according to studies that they have done, to the maximum time of stability of a drug within its original packaging, unopened and unmanipulated.

But what does that mean? As simple as that, a priori, from that date the active principle could be degraded in various ways.

In general, the various excipients which the drug contains are generally destabilized before that the active ingredient itself.

But what do we rely on to quantify that expiration that comes given by the destabilization of the active principle?

In fact it’s considered that it begins to destabilize when it loses more than 90% of its initial power.

There are several types of medicines: oral solids, syrups, suspensions, injectables, etc…

The shelf life in each of these drugs is different, since suspensions, for example, tend to destabilize before than oral solids.

The maximum expiration date for a drug is 5 years from its manufacture date.

Have you arrived well here? Well, because now we have another nuance….

The period of validity of a drug is one in which the drug is kept in good condition once opened.

For example, an oral suspension may have an expiration of 2 years, however once its components have been mixed with water, it may be advisable not to take it after 7 days of having prepared it.

Factors such as humidity and heat are the most detrimental to the degradation of the active principle, with freezing considered as one of the most affecting.

 From now on comes the fun….

Do you know for how long have medicines been in their corresponding unopened containers and retaining more than 90% of the effectiveness of their active ingredient?

For more than 30 years in some cases, and having been exposed to heat and moisture.

For those who are wondering what happens if I take an expired drug for 25 years or with its period of validity exceeded….

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Throughout history there has been only one case recorded in which a person fell sick with an expiry drug.

We’re talking about the year 1,963 for a consumption of tetracyclines (antibiotic).

The fun continues….

Someone will wonder then, why is so much emphasis placed and is it so important that we take the expired drugs to the recycling points?

For among other reasons, such as the care of the environment, because the pharmaceutical companies are going much of their business in it.

We talk about billions of dollars that we all provide them.

They, aware of the durability of the medicines, with which you take them to the drugs recycling point, repackage them, re-extend the expiration date for 5 more years and return them to circulation.

 Round business.

Do you also know where much of those expired medicines are put back?

For through the non-governmental organizations to which the pharmaceutical companies donate or sell those products very cheaply, they finally reach underdeveloped countries where any type of medicine is a luxury.

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 Everyone is free to draw their own conclusions; I just bring you my own deductions through what I have collected and investigated.
 From here I make it clear that no attempt to promote the consumption of drugs in poor condition, and I’m not responsible of the use that everyone makes of their medicine cabinet.
 Before taking or not taking a medication, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
 Recycling is an ecologically responsible activity and necessary for a better preservation of our beloved environment.

Data Research Sources:

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    1. Miguel A. Cabanes Post author

      Hi there, @zeus69 and thanks!
      I’m also one of those with a full medicine cabinet and although I do not intend to encourage the use of expired medicines, it is curious to know everything that is behind that pharmaceutical world, as well as knowing that taking a pill, a priori expired, probably has the same benefit as one that is in date.
      Nice your Cape Town article.