Drug expiration dates aren't hard and fast

People's Pharmacy

Health & Fitness

December 07, 2003|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

How long can you use a drug beyond its expiration date? I have a bottle of Tylenol that expired Nov. 1, 2003. Is it safe to use?

Medications do not suddenly lose effectiveness or become toxic the day after they "expire." Those dates are frequently flexible, and manufacturers try to build in a safety factor beyond the actual expiration date.

In many states pharmacists automatically put a one-year expiration date on prescription bottles, even if the actual medication has a shelf life of a few years. When in doubt, ask your pharmacist how long you can safely take your medicine.

For years our family was plagued with canker sores.

Then we read that some toothpaste contains an ingredient call sodium lauryl sulfate, which might contribute to canker sores. We eliminated it, and the canker sores disappeared.

SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) is an agent that makes toothpaste foam. One small study suggested that eliminating this ingredient might indeed curtail canker sores.

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