Expired Medicines: Check Your Medicine Cabinet!

Expired medicine capsuleWhen’s the last time you cleaned out your medicine cabinet? I try to do this every few months…but apparently I’m doing a terrible job. I’m totally embarrassed to share with you that I just found a few blister packs of immodium (diarrhea medicine), which had expired…ahem… in 2004. Yes, I’ve been holding on to medicines older than most of the kids in my clinic.

So, I’ve decided to turn this humiliation (please don’t tell my wife) into a teaching moment; let’s all rummage through our medicines this week and throw out anything expired! Most of us return to China from our home countries with big econo-jars of pain pills, allergy pills, vitamins, etc. But any medicine more than a few months past expiration date likely is much less effective, especially if those pills have been exposed to the open air. I’ve often had patients tell me they’ve been taking home medicines which they’ve been keeping for a couple of years, and it’s very possible that those medicines had expired and had degraded to the point of uselessness. So maybe their cold symptoms or back pains are lingering only because their medicine is too old.

Let’s all take the time to clean out those medicine cabinets this week. And feel free to share your horror stories below! I doubt anyone can beat 2004…

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