A few nights ago I got a late call from a patient with a clear cut UTI. Pharmacies close early here, especially on weekends. So choices were for me to call in a prescription to a 24 hour pharmacy, which would mean an uncomfortable 1-2 hour drive for the patient. I could also drive an hour myself to deliver antibiotics at greater expense.
As we talked about options the patient’s spouse discovered 30 Cipro tablets on their shelf, which expired in 2010. OK to take or not?
I replied: “My official medical advice would be to take medications that aren’t expired. But if we involve the golden rule, I suspect I’d probably take them myself.”
The patient dusted off her pill bottle and was better in 12 hours. Does that wording help dodge a legal bullet? Unlikely. But the following article gives comfort: “The Myth of Drug Expiration Dates”
A couple quotes from the article…
“…neither Cantrell nor Dr. Cathleen Clancy, associate medical director of National Capital Poison Center, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the George Washington University Medical Center, had heard of anyone being harmed by any expired drugs. Cantrell says there has been no recorded instance of such harm in medical literature.”
“Experts say the United States might be squandering a quarter of the money spent on health care. That’s an estimated $765 billion a year.”
Crazy I say.