Taking Expired Drugs Can Be Dangerous! Here's How to Anticipate It

Like food and drink, medicine also has an expiration date. Medicines that have expired should not be taken again because of the risk of causing health problems. Check out the following information so that you avoid consuming expired drugs.

Medicines that have expired are no longer effective. It can be fatal if taken for chronic disease or serious illness. In addition, the composition of expired drugs may also have changed so that there is a risk of unwanted effects.

How to Recognize Expired Drugs

Drug manufacturers are required to include an expiration date on each product packaging they produce. Expiration date information is usually preceded by writing experience, ED, expiry date, expiry, exp date, use by, or use before.

To identify whether the drug has expired or not, you can see how to read the information on the expiration date of the drug, as below:

1. Description expiry date

If on the packaging of the medicine you are going to drink the information says 'expiry date', this means that the drug is safe and will provide maximum benefits until the date stated on the packaging.

For example, on the drug packaging it says 'expiry date: December 2020', then this medicine should not be taken after 31 December 2020.

2. Description use by date

Not only 'expiry date' , there are also drug manufacturers who use the description 'use by' or 'use by date' on drug packaging. If you find information like this, it means that the drug should not be taken again at the end of the month before the date stated.

For example, on the drug packaging it says 'use by January 2019', then the drug should not be taken after 31 December 2018.

3. Other information

In addition to the two descriptions above, drug manufacturers also sometimes display other information, such as 'discard 7 days after opening'. This means that if the drug is still left after 7 days of opening and taking it, it must be discarded, or returned to the pharmacy to be destroyed even if it has not expired.

Also, keep in mind that some medications have short expiration dates so they can't be stored long after opening. Some of these drugs include:

  • Eye drops

Eye drops are usually only good for 4 weeks after they are first opened. This is because the human eye is sensitive to bacteria that can contaminate the drug once the packaging is opened.

  • Concocted antibiotics

Antibiotic powder mixed with water also expires easily. Usually pharmacists say this drug will expire in just 1-2 weeks, depending on the product.

Tips to Prevent Consumption of Expired Drugs

Before it's too late, let's rearrange your medicine box and start paying attention to the expiration date of the medicine you are going to take.

As previously explained, taking expired medications can be fatal, especially if they are used to treat serious conditions, such as epinephrine for severe allergic reactions, nitroglycerin for angina, insulin for diabetes, and vaccinations to prevent infectious diseases.

To anticipate the consumption of expired drugs, there are several tips that you can apply, including:

  • Check the medicine box at home regularly every 6 months.
  • Separate between drugs that are still fit for consumption and drugs that are close to the expiration date. Throw away expired medications.
  • Follow the storage instructions on the medicine package or label.
  • Avoid storing medicine in hot and humid places, such as in a car. Instead, store the drug in a dry, cool place, and not exposed to sunlight.

If you are already taking expired medicine, please consult a doctor immediately. That way, the doctor can check whether there are negative effects from the drug and give a new drug.