The med has been tested and proven to hold up that long—if the container is unopened and stored correctly. So it set up its own study to determine what we all want to know: SLEP started in as a way to save the U. The Department of Defense stockpiles medications in case of emergency. The agency grew tired of spending millions of dollars replacing those meds once they expired. So it decided to see if the medications would last past their expiration dates.
The medications in SLEP are divided into lots. Each lot usually goes through two testing processes: A sampling from the lot is stored under bad conditions for 60 days: The results indicate how long the drug would probably remain good if stored ideally.
The lot is given a new expiration date based on this data. The FDA says it errs on the side of caution when extending expiration dates. However long they think the med will last, they mark the date sooner than that. Currently, no drug gets an extension longer than 10 years past its original expiration date. But 10 years is a lot longer than one. So the fact that some medications last this long is quite interesting, eh?
Except … the thing is, in SLEP, medications are stored under absolutely ideal conditions. The bathroom medicine cabinet is one of the worst places to store antibiotics. For one thing, at home, prescription meds are usually in a pharmacy-provided pill bottle, not factory sealed, noted Svensson. Also, sometimes medicines are left in cars or otherwise exposed to extreme temperatures. Life is just not as ideal as a cozy SLEP warehouse. How to Store Antibiotics at Home So first things first: To do that, store them in tight containers at room temperature 59 to 86 degrees F.
Even if the pills get really hot one time for example, you leave them in the car on a hot summer day , that could be enough to render them unusable, Prabhavathi Fernandes, Ph. Some could be fine. Freezing could prolong life, but some drugs may be unstable to a freeze-thaw cycle. Repeated freezing can cause a drug to break down. They should not be used past their expiry date.
Liquid antibiotics have their own concerns. According to the manufacturer, the stability of a drug cannot be guaranteed once the original bottle is opened. Heat, humidity, light, and other storage factors can affect stability. Plus, pharmacies, both retail and hospital, nursing homes, and consumers toss away billions of dollars of medications each year based on stamped expiration dates on stock bottles.
The "beyond use" date would never be later than the expiration date on the manufacturer's bottle. Do expired medications lose their potency? The American Medical Association AMA concluded in that the actual shelf life of some products is longer than the labeled expiration date.
Examples of common drug products that were tested with no failures included amoxicillin , ciprofloxacin , diphenhydramine , and morphine sulfate injection. Drug expiration extension dates on these products ranged from 12 months to months over 15 years. These results suggest that many drug products may have extended shelf lives beyond their expiration date.
However, it is difficult for any one consumer or health care provider to know which product could have an extended shelf life. The ability for a drug to have an extended shelf life would be dependent upon the actual drug ingredients, presence of preservatives, temperature fluctuations, light, humidity, and other storage conditions. Additionally, the drug lots tested in the SLEP program were kept in their original packaging.
Once a drug is repackaged into another container, as often happens in the pharmacy, the shelf-life could decline due to environmental variations. Studies and case reports are lacking on this topic. In , a report was published that tied degraded tetracycline use with a form of renal tubular kidney damage known as "Fanconi Syndrome"; however, that formulation of tetracycline in no longer marketed in the U. Solid dosage forms, such as tablets and capsules, appear to be most stable past their expiration date.
Drugs that exist in solution or as a reconstituted suspension, and that require refrigeration such as amoxicillin suspension , may not have the required potency if used when outdated. Loss of potency can be a major health concern, especially when treating an infection with an antibiotic. Additionally, antibiotic resistance may occur with sub-potent medications. Drugs that exist in solution, especially injectable drugs, should be discarded if the product forms a precipitant or looks cloudy or discolored.
Can you use an expired EpiPen? However, research on expired EpiPens has been published. The lowest level of epinephrine was found in an EpiPen Jr. In a life-threatening allergic situation, if there is no other option, use of an expired EpiPen should be considered if it is the only auto-injector available and there are no discoloration or precipitates seen in the solution.
In this case, the potential benefit of saving a life is greater than the potential risk of death by not using it all. There's really no way to know unless drugs are tested, but here are some common sense measures: Insulin is used to control blood sugar in diabetes and may be susceptible to degradation after its expiration date. Oral nitroglycerin NTG , a medication used for angina chest pain , may lose its potency quickly once the medication bottle is opened.
Vaccines , biologicals or blood products could also be subject to quick degradation once the expiration date is reached. Tetracycline may produce a toxic metabolite, but this controversial among reseachers. Proper storage of medications may help to extend their potency. The bathroom and medicine cabinet are not ideal places to store medications due to heat and humidity.
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