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Expiration Date of HIV Meds
Apr 26, 2013

Thank you Dr., for helping all of us ....

I have 2 nagging questions my own net research can't solve

Question #1: How stable are Isentress and Atripla if stored as directions state w/o temperature "excursions."

They have an expiration date ... but is it real. I mean c'mon, the drugs won't cease to work magically on midnight of their expiration date, right? I have this fear that the pipeline will be interrupted somehow ...and the only drugs will be 'expired" ones ..... yes, I have stockpile beyond the crummy 30 day replacement RX .... living from mo. to mo. w/ only a few pills in reserve is terrible, let me tell you. My dr. laughs ...but he doesn't have to depend on them! So, how long will therapeutic value last in a real emergency? I know you can't advocate taking expired drugs, but I seem to recall a VA study on a wide range of medications... and the great bulk iof them were completely fine and potent years later ...so what's the true, honest-to-God facts about HIV meds?

2nd Question: I get my meds via the mail ..... yeah guess what...in the winter it can get really cold below zero where I live ...and over 100F in summer ........ how damaging are these temp excursions to HIV drugs .... I'm not just worried about the hours the drugs are sittin' in my mailbox ... I'm concerned that UPS and the USPS load up trucks the night before --- so the time of extreme cold/hot could be much greater.

thanx!

Response from Dr. Young

Hi and thanks for posting.

You're right that drugs are likely safe to use past their "expiration date". Drugs.com wrote a good review of this subject. Their advice makes reasonable sense to me:

"If a medication is needed, and the patient is not able to replace the expired medication, there is no evidence that it is unsafe to take the medication in most cases. However, if a medication is essential for a chronic and potentially life-threatening disease, for example, a heart condition, seizure, or life-threatening allergy, it is probably wise to get a new prescription once expired."

In practice, if the medication has been stored correctly, it's probably safe to use for at least several months after expiry. If there's no other option that to take expired medication (like in a developing country, or where finances dictate), then proceed with due caution. If a replacement can be had, I'd go that route.

As for your second question, it's difficult to know precisely what USPS or UPS does with their shipments, but to my knowledge (after doing this work for several decades), I'm unaware of any problems that have arisen in from the shipment of medications. So, to the extent that this means anything, I'd not worry too much about this part of the process (actually most mail order pharmacies have in place procedures to deal with the shipping/temperature thing for medications that are the most affected).

I hope that helps, BY



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