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Medications and Expiration Dates

Medications can play a pivotal role in maintaining human health. Each year, physicians in the United States prescribe more than 500 million prescriptions for antibiotics, pain relief medications, anti-fungal medications, ADHD medications, blood pressure medications, cholesterol medications and much more. While the right medication can be a valuable tool in one’s health arsenal, it’s important to recognize that some medications can be very dangerous if not taken correctly. Not only is it crucial to make sure an in-home Summit caregiver is on call to help make sure medication is taken at the right time, in the right dose and with the right meals, it’s also important to note a prescription’s expiration date.

For example, Penicillin is a common antibiotic that is prescribed to millions of people in the United States every year for low-risk bacterial infections. But many don’t know that Penicillin is not a stable drug. Over time, the active ingredients in this medication can break down into toxic by-products. These toxic byproducts can lead to kidney failure in some individuals. In the past few decades, there have been many deaths associated with the use of expired Penicillin.

Most medications have a shelf life of one year; however, some medications have a shelf life that is significantly shorter than this and it varies from drug to drug. In many cases, medications that are made up of active, complex molecules have shorter shelf lives than other medications.

Temperature and humidity can also impact the shelf life of many medications. If a medication is stored at too high a temperature, it may degrade at a rapid rate. Likewise, high humidity can also lead to the breakdown of the active ingredients in some medication. Some medications are best stored in a medicine cabinet while others may require refrigeration.

If you have expired medication in your home, make sure to take it to your local pharmacy. Most pharmacies provide a safe disposal system for expired medications and can answer any medically related questions you may have if you’re unsure about whether it’s safe to use. Our opinion? When in doubt, toss it out.

For help managing medications, transportation to doctor’s visits and much more, contact Home Care Assistance- the trusted provider of Summit senior care, at 908.450.9400.