Does Your Medicine Cabinet Need Spring Cleaning?

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by wdlove, Apr 23, 2004.

  1. macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #1
    Experts Say Medicine Shouldn't Be Kept In Bathroom

    When was the last time you took a good look inside your medicine cabinet?

    Charles Hall, of Oak Park, Mich., was worried his cabinet wouldn't stand up to a pharmacist's scrutiny, but Diana Sigler, a pharmacist at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich., gave him high marks.

    Unlike many people, Hall throws away expired medications and lotions -- except for one bottle of expired castor oil that was found in his cabinet.

    Pharmacists say once medication passes its expiration date, throw it out. Until then, keep the medication in its labeled bottle.

    http://www.thebostonchannel.com/health/3032025/detail.html?treets=bos&tml=bos_health&ts=T&tmi=bos_health_1_12150104232004
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Sparky's

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2004
    #2
    I will not part with my Hydrocodone I don't care how old it is. I had a scrip in my chest from my cancer sugery 2 years ago and recently I had surgery again to remove my gallbladder. Let me tell you about pain :eek:
    I'm sooooo glad I had thos in the chest. Even though my doctor gave me a new scrip for them they ran out way to soon and in the time I waited to get it re-newed, I tapped the the reserves :D

    My wife on the other hand.........
    she could open her own Pharmacy.... If you want a deal on 1990 meds ;)
     
  3. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2002
    Location:
    at the edge
    #3
    I totally agree. In fact I have a bottle of past-due hydrocodone myself. In fact, I remember once hearing a news story about how the US military was looking for cost-cutting measures and had done a lengthy study and found that medicines last with full effectiveness and no dangers far beyond their expiration dates. (I imagine antibiotics were an exception this rule.) This makes sense—with the exception of antibiotics, medicines are just distilled chemicals, so there shouldn't be anything going rancid or rotten in them, and there should be anything with a super-short half-life. :eek:

    I think most expiration dates are placed there just to convince you to buy medicine more often. I never throw out a good medicine no matter how old it is.
     
  4. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2004
    Location:
    'stralia
    #4
    I don't know if it's an Australian thing but hardly anybody I know has a medicine cabinet...we either have first aid kits or just a box filled with band-aids and headache tablets. :)
     
  5. macrumors G3

    iMeowbot

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    #5
    The dates aren't completely arbitrary, it has more to do with how long tests have shown stuff to hold up so far. Newer products tend to have shorter shelf lives than ones that have been on the market for a while, it's the addtional long term testing and real world experience that makes the difference.

    More expensive products can be even better candidates than the cheaper stuff for getting the necessary work for getting extended shelf lives, since manufacturers don't want the cost of unsold expired inventory.
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    voicegy

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    Jan 1, 2002
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    Sandy Eggo - MacRumors Member since 1-1-2002
    #6
    I, too, have been known to "tap into the reserves" on ocassion with leftover prescriptions, with no ill effects. If they're kept out of sunlight, room temp., in a cupboard, and are basically inert drugs and non-liquid, then what the heck?

    Of course, I might hesitate to pop a pill that is, say, 5 years beyond its posted date..but that's an arbitrary number I put on it myself. I wouldn't go so far as to say that its a parmacutical conspirasy, but I wouldn't follow the date to the letter, either. Hey, if it looks discolored, gross or smells "off", that's a signal.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #7
    My father-in-law, who is a physician, says as a rule of thumb to keep medications such as vitamins, pain medications, etc fro three months past the expiration date. Antibiotics are sensitive as mentioned. Keeping the medications longer usually won't due harm, it's that they loose their effectiveness.
     
  8. Nny
    macrumors regular

    Nny

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2004
    #8
    Well, I guess the question to ask is... do expired medications become dangeous? I have never heard of this happening, but I am no pharmacist either. Expired food can be deadly because it can develop all kinds of bacteria and what-nots. I think expired medication is probably just less effective or perhaps completely inert. I don't like to gamble, myself... so I throw out all things past expiration. Better safe than sorry, I guess.
     
  9. macrumors G3

    iMeowbot

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    #9
    Yep. The ones in liquid (saline for contat lenses, syrups etc.) form can grow colonies of interesting wee creatures, for example. Nitroglycerin tablets are also fragile, and do lose their potency over time and exposure. Anything in sterile packaging is worth wondering about, those glues don't last forever.

    Mostly, however, expiration dates exist because governments insist on them. The US rules, for example, are supposed to assure two characteristics, safety and effectiveness of the product, and those dates represent the amount of time over which those characteristics have been tested. After that you're on your own. (Do companies secretly test stuff for longer storage and then not tell? Hell no, that would cost money and leave behind a documentation trail, and no one wants that in an industry where law suits are already routine.)
     
  10. macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    #10
    There is some break down which does occur over time. A lot of it is oxidation. The large carbon rings break apart and you get different chemicals. You also get isomers which may or may not be as effective. One instance where isomers (same chemical formula but different folded shape, carbon rings aren't planar, 2 opposite ends are bent either the same way or opposite ways referred to as boat or chair) cause issues was with the infamous thalidomide. The original drug was one shape. The generic was included the isomer as well as the regular. It turns out that the isomer caused tragic birth defects.

    Odd are the the break downs will yield less bioreactive substance.

    Personally I still have a stash of oxycodone from my cancer days.
     
  11. macrumors 68040

    Macmaniac

    #11
    My sister needs to clean her side of the sink, all of her hair products are spilling onto my side!
     
  12. macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #12
    i have a rather large stash of meds in my cabinet but none of them are expired, i get migrianes, any medication reccomendations for em? and so i tend to use a lot of pain killers when i get the aches that cause me to throw up.....blah, but i definately would never use a med if it was over 2months expired....who knows what would happen then
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

    etoiles

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    Jun 12, 2002
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    Where the air is crisp
    #13
    my girlfriend just pointed out to me yesterday that my Aspirin had expired two years ago... but how can Aspirin expire ??? What next, expiration dates on Salt packages ?
     
  14. macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

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    #14
    Asprin is acetosalysilic(sp?) acid. Its a benzene with a acid group and an acetly acid group (C2H4COOH) stuck off of it. It degrades into something and Acetic Acid. Acetic acid is vinegar. If the asprin smells like vinegar its bad.
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

    etoiles

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    #15
    Thanks ! I guess I should have paid more attention in chemistry class... I hope that 'something' is not too toxic :eek:
     
  16. macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

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    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    #16
    I think it it simply salyicilic acid which is an analgesic, which isn't quite as effective as asprin.
     

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