Being ever suspicious of big pharma, I have always doubted those one year expiration dates on prescription drugs and also the limited expiration period on over the counter drugs. For heaven’s sake, anyone in the military or emergency responder business knows that outdated drugs exist and are used on an everyday basis.
Along these lines, yesterday I received an email from my friend Joe Alton aka Dr. Bones of www.doomandbloom.net. He has just written a new article citing new evidence on the bogus nature of expiration dates on drugs. Given the implications for every prepper who is storing medical supplies, I am sharing Joe’s article below.
New Evidence on Expiration Dates
Over the years, I have expressed my opinions on the bogus nature of the expiration dates stamped on medications in pill or capsule form. I have cited the findings of the Shelf Life Extension Program, a program meant to investigate the possible usefulness of the millions of doses of various expired medications stockpiled by FEMA for use in peacetime disasters.
In my original article, “The Truth About Expiration Dates” 2 years ago, I indicated these findings were no longer available to the public. Now, a breakthrough scientific article has been published in the respected journal “The Archives of Internal Medicine”. Below is the article in its entirety, with important sections in bold type:
October 8, 2012 — An analysis of 8 medications indicates that most of the active ingredients they contain were present in adequate amounts decades after the drugs’ expiration dates, according to results from a study published online October 8 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.For the preparedness community, this information is very important, as it lends credence to what I have been telling you all along: Get your medical supplies together, and don’t throw out drugs in pill or capsule form just because they have passed their expiration dates.
Lee Cantrell, PharmD, from the California Poison Control System, San Diego Division, University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, and colleagues used liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry to measure the amounts of the active ingredients in the medications. The medicines, which had expired 28 to 40 years ago, were found in a retail pharmacy in their original, unopened packaging.
To meet US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, an active ingredient must be present in 90% to 110% of the amount indicated on the label. Drug expiration dates are set for 12 to 60 months after production, even though many compounds can persist far longer.
In the new analysis, 12 of the 14 active ingredients persisted in concentrations that were 90% or greater of the amount indicated on the label. These 12 compounds retained their full potency for 336 months (Dr. Bones 28 years) or longer. Eight of them retained potency for at least 480 months (dr. bones: 40 years). Dr. Cantrell’s team was unable to find a standard for homatropine, 1 of the 15 ingredients.
Only aspirin and amphetamine fell below the 90% cutoff. Phenacetin was present at greater than the cutoff in Fiorinal (butalbital, aspirin, caffeine, and codeine phosphate, but was considerably less in Codempiral No. 3. The authors attribute the deficit in Codempiral to conditions that led to preferential degradation of phenacetin because of its amide group, compared with codeine, which is also in Codempiral but is more chemically stable.
Three compounds persisted in greater than 110% of the labeled contents: methaqualone (in Somnafac), meprobamate (in Bamadex), and pentobarbital (in Nebralin). These relatively high amounts may reflect degradation of other components of the compounded drug, the fact that the samples were produced before FDA-instituted quality control measures in 1963, or inconsistencies of the analytical techniques between when the drugs were compounded and now. The new findings are consistent with the efforts of the Shelf-Life Extension Program, which has extended the expiration dates on 88% of 122 drugs tested so far. Extensions range from 66 to 278 months.
“Our results support the effectiveness of broadly extending expiration dates for many drugs,” the researchers conclude. They also point out that extending shelf life can significantly lower costs to consumers.
Limitations of the analysis, the investigators write, include an inability to confirm the storage conditions of the drug samples, as well as imprecise dating of the samples. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
We are anxiously awaiting lists of the 122 drugs that the Shelf Life Extension Program has tested, but you can expect them to be medications that will be useful in the aftermath of a catastrophe.
The Final Word
If you are like me, you are kicking yourself in the bum for throwing away all of those so-called meds over the years. Not only that, you may also be browbeating yourself for not keeping all of those unused drugs that perhaps did not work as expected or disagreed with you. Bummer. In a collapse situation, they would have been invaluable as barter currency.
But we can not look back – only forward. As new information becomes available, you can bet that I will be reporting it here on Backdoor Survival.
Gaye Levy, also known as the SurvivalWoman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable, self-reliant and stylish lifestyle through emergency preparation and disaster planning through her website at BackdoorSurvival.com. The SurvivalWoman speaks her mind and delivers her message with optimism and grace, regardless of mayhem swirling around us.