Is taking expired medication bad for you?

The risks of taking expired medication

First, let's clarify what an expiration date means:

All drugs have their own composition and consist of active and inactive ingredients to treat specific diseases.

When a drug is developed, the manufacturer determines the time frame in which this drug can be stored. The expiry date is the day until which the manufacturer can guarantee the full effectiveness and safety of the drug.

In this context, it is important to take a closer look at the effectiveness of a drug, because this is essential to achieve the desired effect. A high level of effectiveness therefore results in better results. Due to their reduced effectiveness, expired drugs can no longer adequately combat both harmless diseases (e.g. mild headaches, colds) and more serious diseases (e.g. diabetes or heart diseases).

A poorly treated illness can ultimately lead to more sick days, longer absenteeism from work / school and decreased productivity at work / school. Security is another very important aspect. The chemical and physical properties of the drugs may change after the expiration date. An example of this is tablets / medications that dissolve or change color.

Correct storage ensuresthat the drug remains safe and effective until the expiration date. Special storage requirements are communicated by the manufacturer or the seller.

Improper storage - e.g. in a warm, humid climate in the bathroom - can reduce the effectiveness of the medication even before the expiry date. Most medications are best stored in cool, dry places.

When storing medication in the kitchen cupboard, make sure that neither hot appliances nor the sink are near the medication, as changes in temperature and humidity can affect the effectiveness of the medication. You should also make sure that the medication is kept out of the reach of children in order to avoid accidents such as poisoning.

As you can see, there are two major aspects to be aware of with expired drugs: they become less effective and they can even be harmful. That is why you should throw away any medication that has expired. Why take a risk?

How to dispose of expired medication

Regularly check the expiry dates on the packaging and ask your pharmacist for a special waste container for the expired medication. Simply flushing the toilet down is not a solution as it will contaminate the drinking water system.