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Old 04.02.2015, 19:38
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Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

I'm pregnant and a couple of months ago, I started suffering from pretty bad acid reflux. When I mentioned this to my gynecologist, she decided to prescribe me something, because the reflux would probably get worse before getting better.

She prescribed me a small dosage (of Ésoméprazole), because I only need to take 1 tablet in case the reflux gets really bad. And told me I could always contact her again, in case I ran out.

On 18 November 2014 I went to the pharmacy close to my home. They gave me a box of 14 pills, of which I took 1 tablet earlier already. Currently my reflux is really getting bad, so last night I decided I wanted to take another tablet. But to my surprise, the tablets expired on January 2015.

So I went back to the pharmacy, thinking it's a bit odd to sell medication that expires after only 2-2,5 months. Especially since it was supposed to last me my entire pregnancy. And to ask if this was the normal expiration date for the medication given to me.

Well they gave me all sorts of reasons why it wasn't their fault, although they refused to answer me what the normal expiration date would be for this specific type of medicine. Something about, that normally people would take one tablet every day and then the short expiration dates in such cases wouldn't matter. And that they have extensive procedures in place to make sure they don't sell anything past the expiration date. That they probably would have been willing to take it back if I would have bought a bigger package with the same expiration date. And that medication is often good until 6 months after the expiration date. (Although when I mentioned I was pregnant, she said it might be best to buy another box after all...)

Anyway, I didn't see the point of arguing any further, since they were obviously not going to take it back. It will most likely be covered by the insurance, so it's not about the money either. And I know that medication is often still good after the expiration date, that's beside the point.

I'm just a bit baffled that pharmacies would sell medication so close to the expiration date and wonder whether I should always check the expiration dates on the medication I buy here? I mean, I already check the expiration dates on pretty much everything in the supermarkets, but at the pharmacy? Can't I assume they will sell you something that will last you at least six months?
(I'm fully aware that this also depends on the kind of medication, but for some reason, tablets for acid reflux doesn't occur to me as something that would go bad easily. And her refusing to answer my question about the normal expiration date, kind of confirmed that.)

Or was this just a really bad pharmacy? I more or less decided already that I won't be going back there. Which is a shame really, because they're so close to my home and with a kid on the way, I see how I probably would have become a regular there.
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Old 04.02.2015, 20:06
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

Check the expiry date when you buy them and have in mind for how long they're supposed to last.
On the other hand I'm surprised your doctor prescribed you the meds for such a long period. You'd anyway meet kind of regularly now, isn't it?
As for the pharmacy it might be the case they had them in stock for a while...

Edit: sorry, I saw you're prescribed a box of only 14 pills to get you through pregnancy..

No, the pharmacy is not at fault. Sorry.
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Old 04.02.2015, 20:06
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

I guess if they haven't expired and you are expected to take them all before expiry with the prescribed course, I could understand it.
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Old 04.02.2015, 20:28
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

That particular medication usually has an expiry date of about two or three years post-manufacture, and as it's a frequently prescribed drug the stock in the pharmacy should a reasonably fast turn-over.

Normally it's something taken every day (it's often used to fend off side-effects from other medication) so I doubt that pharmacy thought that giving you a box of near to use-by-date would cause any problems.

Wouldn't you be better off taking something that prevents the acid reflux, rather than only taking them when it's already bad?
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Old 04.02.2015, 20:55
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

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I guess if they haven't expired and you are expected to take them all before expiry with the prescribed course, I could understand it.
The prescribed course was to take throughout the pregnancy, one tablet per day when needed.

I actually got a prescription for 20 tablets, but they didn't have it on stock at the pharmacy. So she asked me if it was ok to give me 14 tablets instead. And I told her that this was fine, since I wouldn't be taking them daily, only when needed, because it was pregnancy related.

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Wouldn't you be better off taking something that prevents the acid reflux, rather than only taking them when it's already bad?
Like? This is what I got prescribed.

I'm already eating next to nothing, since I also have pregnancy diabetes. So no alcohol, no coffee, no sodas, no fruit juice and no chocolate.
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Old 04.02.2015, 21:20
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

normally, i wouldn't care about taking medicine that is expired. especially stuff in solid form, but i guess if you are pregnant, it is better safe than sorry.

i'm kinda surprised that the pharmacy didn't give you a replacement, but then again, it's switzerland.
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Old 04.02.2015, 21:25
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

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The prescribed course was to take throughout the pregnancy, one tablet per day when needed.

I actually got a prescription for 20 tablets, but they didn't have it on stock at the pharmacy. So she asked me if it was ok to give me 14 tablets instead. And I told her that this was fine, since I wouldn't be taking them daily, only when needed, because it was pregnancy related.



Like? This is what I got prescribed.

I'm already eating next to nothing, since I also have pregnancy diabetes. So no alcohol, no coffee, no sodas, no fruit juice and no chocolate.
What you're prescribed is up to your doctor, not me.... I'm not belittling your problems, I had very similar problems when expecting my second child, and hardly eat a thing for over six months....so I know it's not fun.
But that was thirty years ago, I'm pretty sure avaliable treatments have improved since then!
Explain to your doctor that the acid can be really bad, I'm sure there'll be something else she could try if these tablets don't work (although I do think you're supposed to take them before eating as a preventative rather than afterwards to 'fix' the problem); not eating at all really isn't an option.
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Old 04.02.2015, 21:26
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

Hi, i used to suffer from very bad acid reflux as well during pregnancy and what worked for me was unflavored cold milk. Not too much just about 4 to 5 sips taken slowly (dont gulp them down). Hope that it helps. Best of luck with the baby.
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Old 04.02.2015, 21:37
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

Did you speak to a pharmacist or was it an assistant? These tablets have a 24 month shelf life (from manufacture) and usually they would be delivered by a wholesaler with at least 2/3 of that shelf life remaining. So its strange that its been sitting on the pharmacist's shelf for more than a year.
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Old 04.02.2015, 21:59
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

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normally, i wouldn't care about taking medicine that is expired. especially stuff in solid form, but i guess if you are pregnant, it is better safe than sorry.

i'm kinda surprised that the pharmacy didn't give you a replacement, but then again, it's switzerland.
Same and same.

In my opinion, they could have just given me another box and I would have been one happy customer, willing to return for anything else I might need in the future.

Now... Not so much...

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Did you speak to a pharmacist or was it an assistant? These tablets have a 24 month shelf life (from manufacture) and usually they would be delivered by a wholesaler with at least 2/3 of that shelf life remaining. So its strange that its been sitting on the pharmacist's shelf for more than a year.
When I went to complain? I think eventually the pharmacist took over.

This is what I explained too... That I thought that in my particular case (knowing how I would be taking the medication), it was poor customer service. And that, even though normally it obviously didn't result into any problems, with me it did.
So I gave them the option: either you give me a replacement, or I'll buy another box, but I won't be buying it here. Nor any of the other stuff I might need in the future.

Argh... Maybe I will just take them regardless. Only one more month to go. I'm just annoyed because, since we sent the original prescription to the insurance company, I will have to go out and get a new one... And I don't like to be wasteful like that either.
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Old 04.02.2015, 22:03
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

Depending on the dosage your doctor recommends, you don't need a script (unless you want the insurance to cover it). Omeprazole 20 mg is available in small bottles, 14 capsules, for about 20 Francs. You still have to get it at the pharmacy but you don't need the script. HTH.
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Old 07.02.2015, 13:12
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

From a philosophical standpoint, I completely agree with the OP, and with others who think it's weird that the pharmacy even has stuff that close to the expiration date in stock.

But from a practical standpoint, drugs continue to be good for years after their expiration dates, they just slowly lose efficacy in some cases. (So it was explained to me by several doctors, including my own father, who is a retired physician/psychiatrist.) So except in cases of drugs that need very precise dosage (i.e. drugs where they weigh you to determine dosage), there's no real danger to taking a recently expired one.

In the case of the various -prazole antacids: I use pantoprazole as needed to prevent/alleviate acid reflux (mostly as a protectant when taking ibuprofen), and so I also need it only sporadically. Just the other day I got my prescription for it refilled, and I simply asked explained this to the pharmacist with my request for the pack with the longest expiration. She was happy to comply, and got a pack good until 2018 or something.
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Old 07.02.2015, 13:26
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

Just asked 2 doctors- and they totally agree with the post above. A bit strange- but absolutely no problem.

On a ski trip with friends and colleagues, one got a bad cold- and complained so bitterly and insisted he was examined by the doctor who was with us, not as a doctor, but part of the party. He told him that it was a bad cold, and he needed to take it easy, plenty of hot drinks, lozenges and paracetamol. The next day he announced he just had to have antibiotics- as his colds always need antibiotics. The doctor explained why it did not make sense, etc- but in the end, we were all so fed up with his moaning, the doctor gave in and brought him a pack of antibiotics he had with him (not free samples either, he had bought them from the local chemist in the UK- our châlet was a very long way from any chemists) - he looked at the pack and threw it back saying 'are you trying to kill me, it's past the date' - yes it was, by 2 days! He was firmly told to ***********
by the very nice doctor!

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Old 07.02.2015, 13:50
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

yes I agree to the point where in as a customer you have to be very careful with the medicines you buy. Shops will try to clear their stock. They are legal if the expiry date was valid as on the selling date. It's we as a buyer need to judge how long we are going to keep that medicine and if it's worth buying from this shop. Else we do have choices.
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Old 07.02.2015, 14:02
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

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Something about, that normally people would take one tablet every day and then the short expiration dates in such cases wouldn't matter.
That would have been my reaction too... what did your prescription say? It it indicate that you would be taking the odd dose over time? If there was nothing to indicate that you would be using the medicine over a longer period than is usual then I'd say it was up to you to check the expiry date.
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Old 07.02.2015, 14:33
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

Most people do take these meds on a daily basis. I also have a prescription, however, that says as needed and probably use a bottle of 56 over a year - mostly if I've been taking ibuprofen, or when i was having chemo.

A drug like omeprazole is so commonly prescribed that it's hard to imagine pharmacies having any expired stock. On the other hand, i think if you're given expired (close to expired) meds, you should be able to refuse and get new or go elsewhere.
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Old 08.02.2015, 12:54
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Re: Pharmacy selling medication close to expiration date?

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The next day he announced he just had to have antibiotics- as his colds always need antibiotics. The doctor explained why it did not make sense, etc- but in the end, we were all so fed up with his moaning, the doctor gave in and brought him a pack of antibiotics he had with him
That said, that doctor needs to grow a pair and not give in to a stupid patient like that, since antibiotics should not be squandered, period. Not only does this increase antibiotic resistance, it reinforces such patients' belief that if they bully the doctor enough, they can get what they want. This is a bad thing both in terms of medical care, but also in terms of reinforcing the bully's attitude that bullying gets what they want in other situations.
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