Dr. Phil MohlerMOHLER'S MEDICATION MAXIMSGrand Junction Free Press Health & Wellness Columnist

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October 11, 2012
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DR. MOHLER: Is it safe to use expired drugs?

Drug companies and most docs won't endorse using medicines after they've expired; however, there are no published reports of toxicity or injury from any drugs currently on the market because they were used after the expiration date.

A Department of Defense (DOD) study: The DOD has a $1 billion drug stockpile needing turnover every two to three years, so DOD partnered with the Federal Drug Administration in the "Shelf Life Extension Program" (SLEP) to test stability of drugs after they had expired. Here's what we know from that study:• Largest study of its kind - lasted for 20 years. • 2,650 of 3,005 lots (88%) of 122 different medications remained stable for at least one year past the expiration date, with an average of 66 months.• Certain drugs showed no significant chemical degradation at 15 years.• Exceptions are: solutions, suspensions, epinephrine, nitroglycerin, digoxin and warfarin.

In situations where there are no reasonable alternatives, particularly if the expiration date is within the last few months-? years, it may be reasonable to use the expired drug. The risk of adverse effects related to the drug being out of date are small and that there is a high likelihood that the medication will be effective.-------------------------Dr. Mohler has practiced family medicine in Grand Junction for 38 years. He has a particular interest in pharmaceutical education. Phil works part-time for both Primary Care Partners and Rocky Mountain Health Plans.

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The Post Independent Updated Oct 11, 2012 04:20PM Published Oct 11, 2012 04:19PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.