Drug Expiration Dates Waste $800 Million Each Year

Many drugs are still safe to use years after their expiration date, report finds.

July 18, 2017 9:52 am
Drug Expiration Dates
Most drugs are still effective, long after they "expire." (Getty Images)

The shelf life for many drugs is less fact than myth.

A review of prescription medicines past their expiration date found that many were still potent, including some as good as the day they were made. The findings suggest health care providers could save millions of dollars by using drugs that are still effective instead of tossing them.

Pharmacies and hospitals around the country are required to through away prescription medicines once they expire, but new information suggests some of those are potent drugs being squandered. According to NPR, waste in the health accounts for a quarter of the nation’s health care spending, $765 billion a year.

A toxicologist from the California Poison Control System and pharmacist at the University of California, San Francisco found that 12 out of 14 drugs tested were still effective past their expiration date, including some compounds that were 100 percent potent.

Most drugs have an expiration date of about two or three years, which is determined by the manufacturer by subjecting them to intense heat and moisture. According to NPR, the drug makers only test the medications up until the expiration dates, but not after since they aren’t required to do so.

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