Are your medicines out of date?


New data from UK pharmacist LloydsPharmacy suggests that decades old out-of-date medicines could be lurking in many British medicine cabinets!

LloydsPharmacy reveal that on average pharmacists are asked twice a week about medicine expiry dates and whether it is safe to take out-of-date medicines. Some customers even ask if they can take unused medicines from the 1960s!

A massive £300m worth of medicines are unused in the UK every year, and LloydsPharmacy are calling on the public to freshen up their medicine cabinet by clearing out expired medicines now that the winter season is kicking in.

The new data reveals confusion about why medicines expire, how often they need to be replaced and how to safely dispose of them. Lloyds Pharmacy pharmacist Pareena Patel says: ‘It’s quite shocking to see our lack of understanding of medicine safety. It’s important to keep on top of the medicines in the home and to safely dispose of unused or out-of-date products. If you are unsure. ask your local pharmacist.’

Here she offers some general advice on common queries:

Is it safe to use out-of-date painkillers?

You should not take painkillers after their expiry date and if you've had a pack for a while, check the expiry date before using it. You should also make sure that you've stored the medicine properly, as described on the packaging.

Do out of date medicines work?

Medicines have expiry dates so you know when to use them by. After the expiry date, they may not be safe or as effective. You should not take medicines after their expiry date.

How do I dispose of out of date medicines?

If you’re planning to clear out your cabinet this winter and find medicines that have passed their expiry date, take them to your pharmacist who can safely dispose of them. You should never throw unused or expired medicines in the rubbish bin or flush them down the toilet as this adds to the ever-growing problems of water contamination and medication wastage.

Why do medicines go out of date?

Expiry dates are put in place on medicines after rigorous trialling and controlled experiments to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the drug itself. In a nutshell, they guarantee its potency and effectiveness. Never take medicines which are out-of-date, no matter what they are.

How long can eye drops be used once opened?

Eye drops are commonly found in the family medicine cabinet: however they usually expire about one to two years after the date of manufacture. Once your eye drops are opened, you should ideally dispose of them after 28 days, as there is a greater risk of contamination. Never use eye drops after their expiration date.

To help support your medicine cabinet refresh, LloydsPharmacy are offering a limited edition free medicine box, worth £14.99, to customers who spend over £25 on their own-brand products.

LloydsPharmacy has over 1,400 pharmacies across the UK.