Expired or time-barred medicines are medications that have passed on their expiry date (stated on its label). The expiry date of a medicine simply means “Don’t consume this product beyond the stated date on the label”. Because, such time-barred medicines can prove to be dangerous if ingested (even accidentally) and you can easily prevent such mishaps by proactively cleaning your medicine cabinets periodically during the year.
Another important point to note is, to always assess the medicine before you consume. Any change in its physical appearance, consistency, texture, color, smell, indicates decomposition of the product and is therefore un-fit for consumption or use. Please don’t use such products even if they're within the labeled expiry date. Inform your pharmacy and the manufacturing company about the matter. Doing this will not only benefit you, but it will also do social good. The pharmacy, manufacturing company will be able to take appropriate steps to recall the product, study their product for quality non-compliance and fix it.
Expiry dates are applicable not only for medicines that are ingested, inhaled, but also for those that are for external application, for example (and not limiting to) ointments, creams, tinctures, shampoos etc.
Moreover, expiry dates are also applicable for cosmetics and food items. And one should ensure to dispose-off time-barred cosmetics and food products too.
So how do we dispose expired medicines? First thing “don’t throw them away in trash cans or garbage”. If they’re in strip or blister packs, then open the blister/ strips and then dump in water for 30- 60 minutes. Don’t throw this water into drain. Follow your city/ municipality's guidelines for disposing such items. Or inquire with your pharmacy if they have a protocol to accept un-used, expired medicines for disposal. This ensures yours as well as your community’s safety while handling expired medicines.
A classic example are anti-cancer medicines. It’s well-known that anti-cancer medicines can be extremely harmful if ingested by healthy people. Even inhaling dust of such medicines can lead to a healthy person developing cancer. Many other drugs, such as opiates, marijuana, anti- depressant drugs can be very dangerous and fatal beyond expiry and should be handled with care during their disposal.
A strict protocol to follow while disposing-off expired medicines therefore is- Handle with care, safety and using appropriate City/ Municipal prescribed procedures.
Getting in the habit of routinely reviewing your medications, properly disposing of unused/unwanted/ expired medicines and keeping your medications organized ensure - You take your prescriptions correctly and your family's safety seriously.
This is the most easy and effective way to self-help, your family, on the track to wellness, better health !
Disclaimer- In addition to Terms and Conditions, readers are advised to please note that, the information contained in this article is NOT a substitute for medical or legal advice. It is intended to empower general public to understand the pharmaceutical world and consider ideas and alternatives while discussing their specific health scenario with medical and pharmaceutical professionals. Please discuss your specific scenario with a qualified Medical Doctor and ONLY follow health advice given by a qualified medical professional. Also, please note that each country has its own health care related regulation(s), readers are therefore expected to over-ride any information presented here to adhere to rules of their land.