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How can an expired drug be harmful?

You place a great deal of trust in your doctor and pharmacist when you are prescribed a medication, especially one that can cure an infection or treat a life-threatening medical condition. Unfortunately, there are ways your trust might be misplaced. You could be prescribed the wrong dosage amount or given a medication with a similar name that would have devastating consequences if you took it. You and other Louisiana residents might not realize that an expired medication could also adversely affect your health.

As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration explains, some drugs lose their potency when they expire. For example, if you keep Tylenol in your medicine cabinet, despite it having expired several years ago, the worst it might do is not help you get rid of your headache. However, other medications, especially those prescribed for serious conditions like diabetes or congestive heart disease, might come with much worse consequences if you take them after they expire. Outdated insulin that has lost its strength could fail to manage your diabetes; the chemical composition can change in expired medication and cause an adverse reaction; bacterial growth in old medication can fail to treat an infection or cause you to become ill.

As you probably know, your doctor or pharmacist is not likely to be at fault if you store your medication longer than you should and use it past its expiration date. However, you could suffer if your pharmacist fails to print the expiration date on your prescription’s label or you are given medication that is close to expiring or has already expired, without your knowledge. In these cases, you might be eligible for compensation.

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