Pharmaceutical Expiration Dates Questioned

July 21, 2017

Expiration dates could be why the price of your health care continue to rise.  And much like their cousins in the food sector, just because it's has reached its expiration dates doesn't mean their less effective.  It is estimated that pharmacists and medial workers destroy $765 billion in pills, syrups and crèmes a year because the law forbids the sale of drugs beyond their expiration date.  That is as much as a quarter of all the country’s health care spending!  But many countries use expired medications regularly and no apparent ill effects, so why the expiration dates. The dates dictated by FDA and pharmaceutical companies' guarantee of how long the drugs will work, which is generally two to three years, not a definitive statement that they won't work past those dates. As luck would have it, toxicology tests were done on a stash of expired medications long forgotten about on the back shelves of a retail pharmacy; many no longer manufactured.  The test done on medications, that included antihistamines, pain relievers and stimulants that expired 28 to 40 years ago, found that 12 of the 14 compounds were still potent, some close to 100% of the concentration. That doesn't mean the scientists are advising people to continue using medication after that stamped date has come and gone, but it does questions the current policies regarding medication and the arbitrary process by which the dates are allotted. A review of the policies could result in savings of billions of dollars in medications and ease the short supplies that plague many pharmacies.

SOURCE: Propublica

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