Topic Three: Medications – Do they expire?
After you are done checking out the beauty and skin care products, take a look in the medicine cabinet. Do you have bottles in there that could be considered collectible? How long have you had that Tylenol? Does it matter? The answer is yes…and no. Yes, medications do have expiry dates. Those dates represent “the final day that the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of a medication”. Like food, there are different factors to be considered (other than the expiry date) to consider when determining whether you should keep or toss. Most over the counter medications have been proven to keep their effectiveness long past the ‘expiry date’ if they have been stored properly. Proper storage may surprise you a bit. According to several resources, including the National Library of Medicine you should store your medicines in a cool, dry place. For example, store it in your dresser drawer or a kitchen cabinet away from the stove, sink, and any hot appliances. You can also store medicine in a storage box, on a shelf, in a closet. You should not store it in the bathroom, as the heat and moisture from your shower, bath, and sink may damage your medicine. Your medicines can become less potent, or they may go bad before the expiration date. Also, always make sure the bottles are closed properly. It is important to note that some medications MUST be discarded once they reach their expiry date. Medications such as liquid antibiotics, eye drops (last 4 weeks from opening), nitro-glycerine, insulin, Epipens, birth control and tetracycline. Unused prescription meds should also be discarded. Remember, don’t just toss expired medications or vitamins into the garbage. Return them to a pharmacy or household hazardous waste depot. When it comes to any of the 3 topics discussed (food, cosmetics or medications) always remember “If in doubt, throw it out!”