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Expired Drugs – Are They Dangerous?

Many people experience aches and pains throughout their life. Especially as we age, injuries, infections, and chronic illnesses all contribute to pain that cause us to seek relief. However, it is common for many people to go months or years without cleaning their medicine cabinets, resulting in a lot of expired medications and drugs. When you wake up in the middle of the night experiencing a splitting headache, you may not know whether to run to the pharmacy or take the expired drugs you have on hand. Is it really safe to consume expired medications? Continue reading to find out more.

Can you take old, expired drugs?

In general, expired prescriptions and over the counter medications do not become dangerous or harmful immediately following their expiration date. Most over the counter medications have a shelf life between one and three years. According to physicians at the Lennox Hill Hospital in New York, many drugs simply lose their potency and become less effective past the date of expiration. In other words, while drugs will break down and become weakened due to their age, most will not result in toxic chemicals or by-products as a result of their decomposition. The risk to the individual taking the expired medication is that they may not receive the full benefits of the drug they are taking.

Are expiration dates on products necessary?

If most drugs are considered safe to use after the expiration date, why are expiration dates on medications required? For one reason, it’s legally required by the FDA for pharmaceutical companies to include expiration dates on their products. The point of the expiration date is to inform consumers that the medication is safe and effective for patients. Many consumers also view medications similarly to food and beverage products. Consumers tend to trust products that are new, so showing customers that the drugs are recent gives confidence to buyers.

Should you take a chance on expired medications?

There is no law, generally speaking, that says consumers cannot take expired medications that they already have in their possession. It has been established that most drugs do not become toxic upon date of expiry, so the choice of whether to consume expired meds falls on the discretion of the consumer. If you have doubts, you should speak to your healthcare provider about your medication needs. Your medical provider is less likely to advise consumption of expired meds if you are fighting a serious infection or health issue. In these cases, the efficacy of medications is important and taking old, expired medications may put you at risk. Some products, if exposed to heat and moisture in storage, may also grow mold and bacteria which can be harmful to your health.

We advise you to contact your healthcare provider with any questions you have about expired medications and their risks. The King Law firm is dedicated to helping victims of personal injuries recover compensation. Contact us for more info at 352-629-8747.

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