Sunday, October 14, 2012

Not Surprising: Shelf-Stable Drugs Don't Expire (Fast)

Via the always-excellent Phantom's list and the LA Times:

Yes, your long-expired Tylenol in the back of the cupboard is still fine

While I am not in any way advocating that you, personally, should take expired drugs (although I do), it is still true that most things that can be made into tablets are extremely shelf-stable and will last for a really long time.  Anything exposed to heat and light will obviously degrade faster, and suspensions (creams and liquids, and to a lesser degree ointments) are less stable.  And also obviously, anything whose function is critical (anti-epileptics, for example) shouldn't be messed with unless absolutely necessary.

A note to the scientists: Sigma also puts one-year expiration dates on everything.  And we ALL know that's a load of horse hooey. 

6 comments:

  1. Yeah, those antibiotics for selection in bacterial cultures, they work just fine even after the official expiration date.
    However, the aspirin tables that had turned yellow? I didn't want to try...

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  2. In fact, the Dept. of Defense drug-stockpile-testing (link to document here) and the FDA use 'changed color' as a reason to discard expired drugs. So, yes! Excellent reasoning! And yeah. Ancient amp still works fine, right?

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  3. In my grad lab we had amp from before the senior grad student had started (so, maybe 8 years old?). It still worked just fine.

    Recently, I called Sigma to find out about the shelf life of some refrigerated chemical. I was told that Sigma does not an official expiration date for shelf stable/refrigerated items. However, Sigma will only guarantee that the item will work for one year past whenever it is bought.

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    Replies
    1. Ha! I had the same exact conversation with them about six years ago. For something we had two bottles of- an old one and a new one- the new one had a 1-yr exp. and the OLD one had a TEN year exp.

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  4. Hi Jenny! My name is Rachael and I am currently writing an article examining the use of social media and web 2.0 technologies (ie. blogging, meetup groups, forums, user-generated content sites) by female professionals in STEM. I have identified your blog as a valuable resource and perfect case study for this article. I am interested in understanding your perspective on the role of social media in the lives of women in STEM. Would you be interested in contributing by participating in an interview? My e-mail is rhelschein@gmail.com. Please let me know :) And thank you for your blog!

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  5. Always suspected this was the case. I'm pretty terrible about throwing away old/expired medicine. I wind up not doing for years- usually motivated by a move- and wind up with enough unused pain killers I could make a killing selling them on the street.

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