Medications expire because chemical changes to the drug over time may affect the stability or decrease the strength of the drug. An expiration date estimates when the potency of the drug falls below an acceptable limit set by the FDA. The expiration date may also be an estimate of when certain ingredients in the drug change and may be harmful to consume.
There is evidence that some medications may be safe to consume after the expiration date. Even though these may be safe to consume after the expiration date, the drugs may not be as effective due to decreased potency. Also, certain medications have very strict storage requirements and their expiration dates should be strictly followed. Medications that are liquid, like many children’s medications, should not be used past their expiration dates. Other medications that should not be used past their expiration dates include insulin, nitroglycerin, and antibiotics.
So, should I take expired medications?
Although there is evidence that some expired medications are safe to take, the FDA states that “once the expiration date has passed there is no guarantee that the medicine will be safe and effective.”
Emerging COVID-19 Treatments
COVID-19 continues to remain prevalent and affects people daily across the globe. Fortunately, there are some FDA-approved treatments and Emergency Use Authorization medications available to treat COVID-19. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) treatments are medications that are not FDA-approved but are allowed to be used under certain conditions in the US.
The FDA has approved an antiviral drug called Veklury also known as remdesivir. This drug is administered intravenously (IV) and is for adults and certain children with COVID-19. Remdesivir works by stopping the virus from replicating in the body.
Another drug that is approved by the FDA for certain hospitalized adults is called Olumiant also known as baracitinib. This drug is an oral medication that works as an immune modulator that helps to block the virus from entering and infecting lung cells. Baracitinib is also used as an EUA medication in certain hospitalized children with COVID-19.
Emergency Use Authorization Treatments
There are several treatments available for adults and children called monoclonal antibodies that are IV medications. Monoclonal antibodies work by helping your immune system recognize and respond to the virus.
Two oral medications are available for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19. Both medications are antiviral medications that help to prevent the virus from replicating.
One of the medications is called Paxlovid also known as nirmatrelvir/ritonavir. Paxlovid may be used in adults and children older than 12 years old who weigh at least 88 pounds. The other oral antiviral medication is called Lagevrio also known as molnupiravir. This medication is only used in adults.
Which treatment is right for me?
If you develop symptoms that could be COVID-19, get tested immediately. If you test positive for COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider to see if you are eligible for any treatments. Some people may not qualify for certain treatments. Your healthcare provider will be able to determine which treatment option is best for you.
Diabetes and Chronic Illness - Fresh Tips on Food Safety
Living well with a chronic health issue like diabetes is challenging. Prevention is key – enjoying foods that support good blood sugar control and following medication directions enhance long-term health and quality of life. To maximize the benefits of better food choices, be sure good food safety practices are on the menu.
The immune system protects health best when your body is well-nourished. Following food safety and nutrition care guidance should support good diabetes management and healthy immune systems. Diabetes may impact immune function by weakening immune system response, and slowing down digestion, allowing bacteria on food to multiply. Once infection has begun, it can be very difficult to treat. Adults 65 and older with diabetes can be especially vulnerable. Check out the tips and tools you can use to ensure you and your family can navigate successfully prevent food safety concerns.
Know Foodborne Illness Symptoms and Get Medical Care Quickly
Foodborne Illness Symptoms can worsen diabetes/all chronic illness symptoms, including elevating blood sugar and risk of dehydration. If you suspect foodborne illness, call your healthcare provider, or seek emergency care immediately.
- Many shoppers use recycled bags for packing groceries. Be sure to wipe these out or wash them each time you unpack them, with antibacterial wipes or spray and clean paper towels.
- Meat, seafood and fresh produce should be bagged before placing in a cart or shopping bag, so they don’t become cross-contaminated. If your grocery store limits plastic bags, bring your own clean bags to place foods in – clear bags allow for scanning prices and safe handling.
- Purchase pasteurized eggs and dairy products and use best-by and sell-by dates to ensure food purchases are fresh.
- Read labels to be sure foods will meet your needs for enjoyment and diabetes management.
Smart Storage and Prep
- Go directly home – if travel time is extended, use insulated bags and/or coolers to maintain food temperatures.
As soon as possible after shopping or grocery delivery, get chilled and frozen foods put away safely.
Cool tools available in the grocery store to keep food safe:
- Clean shopping bags, reusable ice packs, insulated shopping bags, and coolers.
- Appliance thermometer for the refrigerator – store food at 40 degrees F or lower.
- Cooking thermometer – find temperature charts to ensure foods are cooked to safe serving temps.
- Easy-clean plastic cutting boards (some are color-coded for meat, seafood, produce). Use clean knives and utensils while preparing foods, and do not reuse utensils, bowls or plates that have had raw food contact.
- Hot, soapy water, bleach and antibacterial wipes assist with cleaning cutting boards, utensils, and shopping bags.
- Moisturizing hand soap – keeping hands clean and skin in good condition are both important to diabetes management. BONUS – Good handwashing reduces risk of of flu, pneumonia, COVID-19, and other high-risk infections for those with chronic health conditions.
- Store raw and cooked foods safely in regularly cleaned designated refrigerator sections. If any items are damaged or have any indication of spoilage, don’t hesitate to discard. Follow the food safety mantra of “When in doubt, throw it out!”
Come Pay Your Due Against The Flu!
Did you know that the single best way to avoid getting the flu is to get a yearly flu shot? During the 2017-2018 flu season, the flu vaccine prevented 7.1 million cases of the flu, 109,000 hospitalizations, and 8000 deaths.1 That’s with only about 42% of adults getting a flu shot! Flu season typically begins around October and can extend well into May but these are just the most common months. You can get the flu any time of year so it is always recommended to get your flu shot early!
For a healthy adult the flu may not seem to be that big of a deal but, the flu can greatly increase the chance of heart attack or stroke. Adults over 35 with a confirmed case of the flu are 6-10 times more likely to suffer their first heart attack and are about 8 times more likely to suffer their first stroke.2,3 Those of high risk stand to benefit from flu vaccines as well. People with type II diabetes who also receive yearly flu vaccines are 30% less likely to have a stroke, 22% less likely to suffer from heart failure, and 19% less likely to have a heart attack.4
Getting a flu vaccine not only helps the recipient but everyone around the recipient. This is especially important for infants under 6 months and those with conditions preventing them from getting a flu shot. Those unable to be vaccinated depend on the rest of us for protection from the flu. The more flu shots that are received, the less flu will spread, and the safer we’ll all be. So head over to your local Price Chopper or Market 32 pharmacy and get your shot!
- Can the flu shot give me the flu?
- No! Flu vaccines are made using dead viruses or pieces of the virus’s genetic code that don’t have the capability to cause illness. It takes 1-2 weeks for your body to develop immunity after receiving the flu shot, another good reason to get your shot early this season!
- Why do I need to get a flu shot every year?
- Each year the flu virus changes, undergoing mutations that can make the previous vaccinations ineffective. Getting a flu shot yearly ensures you have immunity from the latest strain of the flu.
- Is getting a flu shot the only thing I can do to prevent catching the flu?
- While the flu vaccine is the single best way to avoid the flu, there are many things you can do to protect yourself. Frequent hand washing and avoiding those with the flu can go a long way to prevent it from spreading. If you do fall ill it is important to stay home, cover all coughs/sneezes, and limit contact with those around you.
Written by Eugene Kupiec Pharmacy Intern
- “2017-2018 Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical Visits, and Hospitalizations Averted by Vaccination in the United States | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed August 14, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/averted-estimates.htm.
- Warren-Gash C, Blackburn R, Whitaker H, McMenamin J, Hayward AC. Laboratory-confirmed respiratory infections as triggers for acute myocardial infarction and stroke: a self-controlled case series analysis of national linked datasets from Scotland. Eur Respir J. 2018;51. doi:10.1183/13993003.01794-2017
- Kwong JC, Schwartz KL, Campitelli MA, et al. Acute myocardial infarction after laboratory-confirmed influenza infection. N Engl J Med. 2018;378:345-353.
- Vamos EP, Pape UJ, Curcin V, et al. Effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in preventing admission to hospital and death in people with type 2 diabetes. CMAJ. 2016;188:E342-E351.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommends Universal Annual Influenza Vaccination [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2010 May 11]. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r100224.htm
- About the Flu [Internet]. [cited 2010 May 11]. Available from: http://www.flu.gov/individualfamily/about/index.html
- Common Cold [Internet]. [cited 2012 June 18]. Available from: http://pricechopper.staywellsolutionsonline.com/Search/85,P00620