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Posted on November 1, 2013 by DrRamey
Here’s something about which I get calls all the time.
You come out to the barn and you find that your horse has a bit of swollen leg. You think, “I think that I’ll give him a couple of tablets of bute,” because you think it might help with the soreness and swelling. You check your tack box for the drug. If you’re like me, your tack box is probably more like a time-capsule than it is an organized cabinet. Anyway, you dig through your tack box and finally find a bottle of bute under one of the assorted colors of leg bandages that you keep. You’re happy, but then you find that the stamped expiration date on the bottle says that the drug expired 18 months ago. What do you do? If you give your horse a couple tablets, will it work? Could it maybe even hurt your horse? Let’s look at some important questions.
1. Are Expired Drugs Safe?
Almost undoubtedly. There don’t seem to be any published reports of toxicity in people from drugs used after their expiration date, whether those drugs are injected, ingested, or put on the skin (there was one report, back in 1963, of damage to a person’s kidneys from an outdated antibiotic product, but that product isn’t available anymore, and it wasn’t the antibiotic that caused the problem). That does make some sense, I mean, it’s not like your horse’s bute pills are going to morph into some poison – or explode – at any time after they expire. So the expiration date doesn’t really mean that the medication has become unsafe to use. Most medical authorities state expired drugs are safe to take, even those that expired years ago.
2. What Does the Expiration Date Mean?...
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