A new research has suggested that medicines that are years past their expiry date and haven’t been always kept in strict climate controlled conditions are still effective and safe to use if necessary.
That is good news for people working in remote areas of the world where sometimes an expired medication is the only one available and the alternative is having no way to treat a serious illness.
“The expiry date on a drug packet is the last date a drug company will guarantee the drug content and stability when stored in the recommended conditions and in the original packaging,” said lead author Emma Browne.
“This date is not necessarily the point at which the drug becomes ineffective or dangerous, and for many medications, this window may be far longer than the usual two-to-three-year expiry date.”
The team tested the stability of five expired drugs, all one to four years past expiration date. They compared them to fresh samples of the same medication to check if the expired versions were chemically stable and retained their active ingredient.
They found that all of the tested drugs were stable and would still have been effective. However, the researchers warn that their results are limited by the fact that the exact temperature exposures experienced by the drugs were not known.
In some communities, doctors face the issue of getting medicine more than once a year. It can also be costly for small communities or expedition groups to replace unused drugs.