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Expired Medications

Michelle A. Fritsch, Pharm.D., CGP, BCACP

September 8, 2015

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Question

What are the risks of taking expired medications?

Answer

Before a medication comes onto to the market and is sold, there is data to assure that it will not change chemical composition and that it will be just as good as it was day one by a certain length of time.  Whatever is the time at which they studied, that is the expiration date.  What we do not have access to is whether or not the medication decomposed and change to a new chemical entity or was that just all the further out it was studied?  If you have ever had an aspirin bottle get old and you open it, you found that it smells like vinegar.  That is because it actually changes chemical structure to vinegar.  Sometimes medications can change to a different structure and there are some that can be dangerous.  They could cause kidney failure or liver failure or have huge negative impacts.  There are others where they might just be a little less potent.  That is a very broad answer, but it is medication to medication and we are finding that we do not have a good source of information to guide people.  The safest bet is to use the expiration date on the bottle.  


michelle a fritsch

Michelle A. Fritsch, Pharm.D., CGP, BCACP

Michelle Fritsch, Pharm.D., CGP, BCACP is a clinical pharmacist with a passion for geriatric health and education.  She is currently founder of Meds MASH, LLC, a company dedicated to reducing risks posed by medications and falls in mature adults.  She was from 2008-2014 founding Professor and Chair, Department of Clinical and Administrative Sciences at the Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy in Baltimore, Maryland.  Dr. Fritsch received her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees from Purdue University.  She then completed a primary care residency at the William S. Middleton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Madison, Wisconsin.  Prior to her arrival at the Notre Dame of Maryland University, Dr. Fritsch founded and directed the Alamance Medication Assistance Program (AlaMAP) of Alamance Regional Medical Center (ARMC) in Burlington, North Carolina from 1997 to 2008.  The AlaMAP clinic provides medication therapy management and medication access to a geriatric population in Alamance County, North Carolina.

 

 


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