Monday, November 12, 2018

Don't throw out out those old pills!

As I mention in my book, Prescription for Bankruptcy, one of the many ways big pharma soaks the consumer is by putting arbitrary expiration dates on their pill bottles. Nursing homes and hospitals regularly throw out perfectly good medicines because they are "outdated" and cannot be given to patients. Many patients do the same, trusting the dates stamped on the bottles. This behavior is despite multiple studies both old and new showing that pills are perfectly good well past the date on the bottle. I have always tried to advise my patients to use up all of the pills unless they were obviously crumbling, but I had made an exception for nitroglycerine pills. These are used to treat angina attacks (temporary heart pain brought on by exertion), and are meant to dissolve under the tongue. This compound seemed unstable enough that I advised my patients to store their reserve supply in the fridge and replace the pills every 3-6 months. Well, it turns out I was mistaken, and even this seemingly unstable compound lasts a lot longer than I thought. A study soon to be published in The American Journal of Cardiology looked at nitroglycerine tablets carried in pocket or purse. The 25-count bottles carried in a pocket maintained their potency for 2 years, while those carried in a purse were good beyond 2 years whether in 25- or 100-count bottles. Only the 100-count bottles carried in a pocket fell below acceptable limits at 12 months.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very important post and reminder to all, but especially for those who must take medications for chronic diseases. I have always kept some medications, even anti-biotics in my home 'disaster" kit, assuming that the risk of taking an older drug under earthquake (California!) conditions would be less risky that going such meds.

    Assuming that the value of the discarded meds in hospitals and nursing homes is quite high, and that they have probably not even been opened for an individual patient in some cases, is there not a way to collect those --sealed, et--for distribution to patients who are already NOT getting the meds they need, or pacing them out to make them 'last longer". Certainly patients who have been prescribed drugs, and yet cannot afford them would be better served to have "outdated" drugs than none at all!

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