Survivalist Forum banner

Looking for information on expired OTC medicine safety/potency

3175 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  TNTCrazyLady
As the title says. I'm looking for more info to see what is safe to use when expired and for how long it will be effective.

I'd like to find out if anything degenerates into harmful substances with age, and whether or not certain meds will maintain useful potency for a while.

I ask this because the farthest I've seen exp dates go is about 2 years.

1 - 6 of 6 Posts
As the title says. I'm looking for more info to see what is safe to use when expired and for how long it will be effective.

I'd like to find out if anything degenerates into harmful substances with age, and whether or not certain meds will maintain useful potency for a while.

I ask this because the farthest I've seen exp dates go is about 2 years.

A doc i worked with told me they just get less potent with age. Loads of expired meds make their way to africa every yr and are used.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Some meds can last up to two years beyond shelf like but they get weaker so dosage
would be difficult to adjust. It would be more or less trial and error...a bit risky.
Insulin doesn't have a very long shelf life at all...a matter of weeks or months.

The only really harmful drug when expired is antibiotic. It turns
toxic, so forget about it lasting beyond shelf life date.
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Here is some info I got from a prep-doctor blog. "The
expiration dates on the bottles of meds that you receive at the pharmacy are really
made up, since no pharmaceutical company really studies the time-related efficacy
and safety of these drugs carefully. The expiration dates are always much earlier
than the true degradation dates, except for liquid and injectable medications.
Almost all medications are probably still safe and effective for at least 1-2 years
after the printed expiration date. Almost every doctor friend of mine gives his/her
family expired medications from their sample shelves"! For what it's worth : - )
  • Like
Reactions: 1
medicine storage

In reading the medical book posted on y2kchaos it can benefit from knowledge that in storing antibiotics and other medicines, it helps to know that these deteriorate by chemical deterioration. This type deterioration comes from the thermal agitation of molecules which causes one now and then to statistically obtain enough energy to smack into another one with more than enough energy to seperate the bonds. Therefore temperature critically affects the rate of decomposition. The rate of decomposition is halved for every 20 degrees farenheight the temperature is lowered. It works this way: Tetracycline, with shelf life of 5 years at 60 F, lasts 10 years at 40F, 20 years at 20F, 40 years at 0f, or in a home freezer.
Pennicillin in 100cc bottles or less can be laid on their side and frozen without bursting the bottle, and will also last 40 years in a freezer. mix well when thawed and all is well. Liquids can be frozen in small bottles with more than 10 % air space in them. (Ice expands 10%, and in bottles more than about an inch and half diameter the walls can't stand the pressure ice exerts before it melts from pressure, to relive its expansion through this melting, so they crack as they freeze. Still good, but a mess when they thaw. You can still freeze larger bottles but you have to nurse them as they freeze by shaking them up to put air foam into the ice, to relieve the pressure. Best to keep at least a quarter of the bottle volume as air, in those you want to try this on.

Note that this formula is for chemicals, not biologicals. Biologicals are things like live vaccines, and seeds etc which are expected to be alive when thawed. Biologicals have very varied life extensions from cooling them down, but in all cases known to me, they double life in much less than the 20F required to half the chemical thermal deterioration rate mentioned above.

I have stored tetracyclines since the 60's in 0F, and they are still good, but getting close to their expiration date. I have pennicillin in 100 cc bottles frozen, but the 250 cc bottles won't take freezing. Don't buy them, or nurse them as they freeze. As for powdered medicines, no problem, store them in the freezer, in moisture proof containers, and they will last about as long as you will. Do measure the actual temperature of your freezer. All of them don't reach 0F, and it pays to keep a log with the medicines, if you plan to keep them 40 years. Usually you will buy medicines with part of the life already expired. If you have only 2 years left, you can double that remaining life same as you would the original 4 or 5 years life with newly mfg stuff. Also I have used agricultural antibiotics for 40 years, (as do most vets) for human illnesses. They are basically the same stuff as human grade with a different label on them. Some antibiotics, which are not recommended for human use because of their side effects, like streptomycine, and auromycine, and clorotetracycline are sold for animal use, and the med books only list them for human illness as drugs of last resort. They all have some side effect that makes them less desirable than other antibiotics available, but at one time they were all the talk of the town. In a survival situation, the antibiotic is not going to kill you nearly as fast as the illness, even if it is expired. As the med book said, they deteriorate gradually in potency like vitamans, and only a very few generate decomposition products that are really dangerous, as do tetracyclines. (they can cause kidney damage if too old, and you take a lot of it). Less potent means more may be needed, but if you are between a rock and a hard place you have to take chances. You already took a big one by getting sick in a survival situation, and another might not be all that scary. Common sense says if you got medical insurance, or you can afford it, and ordinary medical facilities are available, why bother with the above? Save your survival stock till nothing else is available. Just do not be so afraid of the medicine that you die looking at a bottle that could have saved your life. [email protected]

Top Previous Next

Iodides & stuff


Many survivalists are searching for a source of Iodide pills to use for protection from nuclear fallout. They are hard to find, and cost about $15 to 20 per 100 tablets of potassium iodate. typical pills contain 85 mg iodine per pill, with directions to take 2 pills per day for 14 days and then 1 pill a day for 85 more days. begining preferably 12 hours before first fallout lands.

IODATES: iodate is more toxic than iodide by a factor of about 12. However doses of either for this purpose are far below the known toxic levels found in literature. For example: Maxwell (5) found that rabbits tolerated sodium iodide at a dose of 1 g/kg body weight intravenously, but that 75 mg/kg of iodate provoked severe symptoms, including seizures and spastic paralysis. 5.Maxwell LE 1930 The reactions of iodates in vivo. J Pharmacol Exp Ther 40:451.

SODIUM AND POTASSIUM IODIDES: Sodium iodide is 85% iodine by wt, so the iodine would be .85 gm/kg body wt for sodium iodide tolerated above, sodium iodate is 64% iodine by wt, but it is the iodate not the iodine that is toxic in it, and the rate which you absorb it matters a lot, for it is very fast turned into iodide by body fluids. However the amounts of either you take for fallout protection is so far below the danger levels that it is not an important factor. For example 75 mg/kg toxic level for iodates amounts to 7500 mg, or 7.5 grams for a 100 kg (about 220 lbs) adult, where the dose for fallout is only 0.15 gram a day, or about one fiftieth the toxic level. and, 1 gm/kg for iodides amounts to 200 gms for a 100 kg (big person!) which is about half pound of the stuff, which in rabbits produced no mentioned severe symptoms for it was tolerated. At a max dose rate for fallout protection of 140 mg iodine (pure iodine contained in the iodide) the dose of iodide is 166 mg of the iodide in 100 kg body = 1.6 mg/kg which is about one six hundredth the tolerated dose for rabbits cited above. So it can be seen that these doses are way below the known severe symptom levels.

IODINE DAMAGE: Excess iodine can cause eye damage of the retina. A look at the literature indicates this is from the Iodate form of the iodine, rather than from the iodide it changes to in body fluids, and is only observed in rapid intravenous administration which raw iodate to reach they eye. The rates to cause this damage appear from the literature to be enormously greater than one encounters by taking oral iodate pills. But if you swallowed a bottle, you ought take the antidote which is ordinary photographic hypo, (sodium thiosulfate, its not very toxic so its not critical, its also not so easy to find now days. The iodine bottles contain directions to use a 5% solution and give 10 cc per kilo of body weight orally. Thats a liter for a 100 kilo person (220 pounder) ).


7% TINCTURE OF IODINE is available in most farm supply stores which sell animal medicines. A form is available under the Agrilab label called "stronger iodine tincture" that contains 7% free iodine and 5% postssium iodide, or a total of 11% iodine, and it costs about $4 per pint, (1998 prices see, Jeffery's Ag supply, 1-800-533-3377 cat No. AT-TO-17). Use 65% as much of it as you would the 7% stuff),

For the 7% stuff, add enough water to a pint of 7% tincture of iodine to make 5 quarts of solution. Add to this 5 level teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda, and the iodine color will soon dissappear, and you will have buffered sodium iodide solution. There is an excess of soda so it ought store without any decomposition like you get in the saturated iodide solutions commercially available. If it does turn brown over time, add enough soda to clear it up and it's good as new.

The dose for this is take 10 cc per day, mixed into drinks or drinking water, so its taste is not so bad. don't worry about water purity for this has enough iodine in it to purify just about anything but raw sewage. After 14 days drop the dose to 5 cc per day for the next 85 days. If more fallout lands you have to keep on the reduced dose for 100 days total after it falls for it takes that much time for all the radioactive iodine to die out naturally, and you don't want any to get absorbed for it really eats up your thyroid gland even in small quantities.

For the more potent argilabs 11% sfuff, to a pint of that add enough water to make 2 gallons solution, and to that add about 7 level teaspoons soda. That makes it same strength as the above 7% stuff. Take 10 cc each day the first 14 days, then 5cc a day for the next 85 days, same as above.

These tinctures are in isopropyl alcohol, which is not toxic or it would not be used in face lotions, rubbing alcohols etc. This is not wood alcohol which is too poisonous to use on skin or internally. A pint of this alcohol in 5 quarts of water makes the solution alcoholic at a 10% level, or 20 proof, but you only take 10 cc a day or about tablespoon, and that is going to be diluted in drinks or food, so the alcohol content is not something to get concerned about. Anyone drinking enought of the solution straight, to get a fair buzz, if he can stand the taste, will likely die of iodine poisoning before he enjoys much of the buzz. That bottle of 7 or 11% tincture of iodine has a poison lable on it, and it means if you slug down a fair gulp of it you could do yourself in. The poison-ness comes from its concentration. Lots of things are like that. Try eating a pound of table salt and you will also experience some weird symptoms that will make you not do that again, even for a fair amount of money. I say this to ease the mind of person totally unfamiliar with chemistry and pharmacy, so they will not see that poison label and be afraid to touch the stuff. Remember the radioactive iodine is thousands of times more poisonous than this stuff.

USE IT FOR WATER PURIFICATION: This same tincture makes a good water purification material. Iodine is better than chlorine for sterilizing water. It tales a whale of a lot less to just purify water than the above stuff. To purify a quart canteen of water that is clear enough that you'd like dare drink it, you can add 2 drops of the tincture and wait half hour then its ok to drink. Thats about double the amount that will do if the water is not cloudy with mud or other stuff. You can use about half as much of the 11% as you do the 7% and get away with that, and if you don't want to waste it because its running out, use clear settled water and add as little as a drop to half gallon and wait two hours and you will still be unlikely to get anything from the water. DON'T DO THIS HALF DOSE CUT-BACK IF YOU KNOW REALLY DANGEROUS BIOLOGICAL WARFARE GERMS ARE POLLUTING YOUR WATER. USE THE FULL 2 DROPS PER QUART FOR THAT KIND OF THREAT AND IF YOU RUN OUT OF IODINE, BOIL HELL OUT OF THE WATER BEFORE YOU GET IT INSIDE YOU OR IN ANY CUT OR SCRATCH.

For comparison, (and peace of mind) NASA published a resin water treatment system that uses softening type resins to slowly add iodine to drinking water. Its minumum iodine concentration was 1PPM before it had to be regenerated and it had 3 PPM average concentration of iodine in the water. .1 CC of 7% tincture of iodine puts 7 ppm iodine in the water. An insulin syringe holds 1 cc and has two scales, one in 40 units per cc and one 80 units per cc. .1cc = 4 units on the 40 scale, and that's enough for half gallon of water at their 3 PPM avg disenfecting concentration. That is also 1 cc for 5 gallons of water, and 1 pint of that stuff contains 464 cc which is enough for 2300 gallons of water, for you LARGE water users.

The clorox bottles when I was a kid (1930's) all had directions on them how to sterilize water using clorox. They quit putting it on there as the number of lawyers grew to locust plague porportions, but some surfer might get them to look up that old label data and add an addendum to this article.

My present useage of liquid bleach to sterilize water would be a drop of 5.25 % sodium hypochlorite to a quart of clear water, and double if cloudy, and quadruple if muddy. I vaguely remember putting about a teaspoon of clorox in a garbage can that I believe was about 20 gallons, which we used to hold water in the kitchen way back when. It is not critical, so don't split hairs measuring stuff.

An important clorox or iodine use is to add it to those liquid hand soap dispensers. Washing your hands with that can do wonders to stop your catching flue, colds, and getting infections from scratches on the hands. You can make your own pint of hand wash by putting a couple table spoons of ivory dish washing detergent or equal, in a pint of water and adding half teaspoon of liquid bleach, (less if it's chlorine odor offends you, a teaspoon full is pretty potent for ordinary germs, but those that are wearing kevlar need it). For iodine about the same will do. it looses its tan rather quickly as it reacts with the detergent, but distilled water lets it hang on longer. If you can't smell it the stuff is weaker than it should be. If it gags you its too strong, and if using liquid bleach it will make your skin stink for a while because the skin absorbs some of the chloring. Use your head, and it'll work out.


To do this make normal saline solution by adding one level teaspoon of table salt to a pint of clean water. This makes a salt sloution that is the same salinity as blood, and it does not sting when squirted in wounds or up your nose or in your eyes. Warm it and you can't even tell its been squirted those places. For sinus and nasal flushing add 1/8 cc of the 7% tincture of iodine and 1/10 cc of the 11 % (7% stronger iodine!) to the pint of saline above. You can substitute clorox or any liquid household bleach that says it's got 5.25% sodium hypoclorite in it, and for that you add no more than 8 drops of bleach. DO NOT EXCEED 11 DROPS FOR NASAL USE OR YOU WILL BLEACH YOUR SMELL CELLS, AND LOOSE YOUR SENSE OF SMELL FOR ABOUT 16 HOURS, BUT IT COMES BACK. Don't know how many times you can do this without damage so don;t risk it unless you have grevious wads of something growing in your sinus and its either you or them situation. The iodine is better at killing viruses.

For sore throat uses you can use up to triple the above strengths of iodine or liquid bleach to a pint of saline, and it is harmless to mouth tissues (and to nasal tissues, but it raises hell with your smell cells). This stronger solution is good for strep throat, and being saline if you get some down the wrong pipe (your wind pipe) it does not gag you and make you spit up like water would.

For wounds, keep this sore throat stuff in a pint spray bottle so you can immediately flush out any cut or puncture wound. The iodine or bleach sterilizes the saline in the bottle. The iodine will loose its tan color in hours due to converting to iodides with minerals in tap water. It is still a germ killer when in the iodide form. Use distilled water and if its really distilled well and has no minerals the tan will last a long time unless the salt has some carbonates in it. I use iodized salt to help things along.

For deep puncture wounds turn the spray nozzle so it makes a fine needle like stream of saline, and squirt this with considerable pressure down into the wound. The liquid will not harm you. It does not sting. It can kill whatever bacteria are down there, but it can not sterilize wads of clothing carried into the wound, nor dirt wads, nor splinters left in, but it can sterilize a full metal jacket bullet hole pretty well as long as it wasn't a belly wound that is going to leak intestinal bacteria, or a wound where the bullet is still in there, but for in and out clean wounds it can do a pretty good job, especially if you have antibiotics to boot. ONLY DO THIS KIND OF STUFF IF YOU ARE GOING TO DIE IF YOU DON'T DO SOMETHING. IF YOU CAN FIND BETTER TREATMENT DO GET IT. BEFORE YOU LAY THERE AND DIE THOUGH TRY THIS. AT WORST IT CAN ONLY DELAY YOUR DEMISE, IF THAT IS WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN ANYWAY. For the normal small wounds you get fooling around day to day, it can do wonders to speed their healing. Just flush them well, then hold a toilet paper wad over the cut till it stops bleeding and knits together, then after about 5 to 10 minutes of that, soak the wad with saline to unstick it, and when the skin is dry put a micro pore tape over the cut to hold the skin EXACTLY in proper alignment, and it will heal with NO scar. Scars come from sloppy alignment that forces the wound to have to fill up gaps with scar tissue.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Great Info on Medicine Storage

The info y'all list is great I also found the following when I did my own research.

I also have some stuff from W.H.O. on donated RX but it mostly too technical for me so if anyone has the background to read it and give us all a layperson's type of run down - let me know ;-}

Medicine Storage

According to a Medical Study in the UK ( the recommended maximum storage and transit temperatures for most medications is 25 degrees C or 77 degrees F and are set by the pharmaceutical manufacturers. ... Others, however, 'do seem temperature sensitive.' Many drugs, including cefalexin, ampicillin and erythromycin have shown a reduction in efficacy when exposed to high temperatures. Aspirin, for example, degrades under increased temperature conditions. ...


General Guidelines
• Store medicines in a cool, dry place, protected from sunlight and out of reach of children. A good spot is the top shelf of a linen closet. A bad spot is a bathroom cabinet, due to the high humidity.
• Group medications by category so the one you need doesn't get lost in the shuffle.
• Once a year, throw away outdated drugs. Some old medicines lose potency, while others may undergo chemical changes that could make them unstable or even risky.
• Contact the American Pharmaceutical Association for more information if lacking from the pharmacists or missing on the label.

Repeated in another article by Teri Walsh when interviewing Marisa A. Lewis of PharmD on
• Keep it cool and dry. Read storage recommendations carefully. Unless special conditions are suggested (for example, antibiotics are often stored in the refrigerator), choose a storage spot that's cool, dry, protected from direct sunlight, and out of the reach of children. Best bet: the top shelf of a linen closet. Worst: bathroom cabinets, due to high humidity.
"Proper storage is important, but most people don't bother because the bathroom is so convenient," Dr. Lewis says.
• Organize. Group meds by category so the one you need doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Put cold remedies, tummy soothers, and pain relievers into labeled plastic storage boxes for easy retrieval.
• Toss. Once a year, throw away outdated drugs and remedies. Some old medicines lose potency, while others may undergo chemical changes that could make them unstable and even risky, says Paul Insel, MD, professor of pharmacology and medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

Tips For Storing And Handling Vitamins (focus on bulk generic) from

It is vital that all drugs, even vitamins, are kept out of the reach of children. Excessive amounts of vitamins such as A, D and K can be exceptionally harmful to children.

When vitamins are stored properly, they can usually remain at their best for four to five years. So, what are the most important things to know about supplying and handling vitamins?

•First and foremost, the majority of discount vitamins and supplements should be tightly sealed, at a cool temperature, dry and away from light. The information for the specific requirements for the vitamins can usually be found on the packaging and the manufacturer's website or customer service line.

•The best place to keep vitamins is in the linen closet, which can accommodate all of the requirements for storage.

Vitamins should only be placed in the refrigerator when long-term storage is necessary. According to Glen Shue, a nutritionist for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a three-month supply of the discount vitamins should be kept out of the refrigerator, with the remaining sealed tightly. For all others when it comes time to retrieve more vitamins, the storage bottle should be taken out of the fridge, allowing it to get to room temperature before opening. A helpful money saving tip is to ensure that when buying in bulk, the specific types of vitamins and/or minerals being purchased will be used on a daily basis to ensure that they do not go too far out of date and thus disposed of.

•The only supplements that don't fall under the "no fridge rule" are fatty acids and antioxidants, especially Carotenoids (luteins, beta-carotene, etc.) and Vitamin E. These must be must be protected from air oxidation thus storing in the refrigerator in a dark bottle/container is best.

•Never store vitamins in the kitchen or in the bathroom. The bathroom is a bad idea because of the amount of heat and humidity caused by showers or bathing. Kitchens also contain a large amount of moisture as well as vaporized fats. These collect on the vitamins, causing them to lose their potency.

•Packaging does make a difference! As often as possible discount vitamins and minerals need to be kept in the original container it was sold in. in order to avoid deterioration of its strength.

The Food and Drug Administration does NOT require expiration dates or storage instructions on bottle on vitamins. While most manufacturers indicate the dates anyway, it is not a requirement.

** Vitamins that are out of date are not dangerous to a person's health. These vitamins simply lose their effectiveness and potency.

Medicine Storage for Pets and Livestock from
Medicine Storage: Best Practice

Secure, segregated and safe storage of medicines/remedies and equipment (e.g. needles) is important.

Suitable Storage

• The medicine store (s) should be of a sufficient size and strength to hold all the livestock remedies on the farm.
• Store livestock medicines in accordance with manufacturer instructions. Some medicines may need to be stored within a specified temperature range. (e.g. vaccines) and may require refrigeration. Medicines from a refrigerator that were inadvertently frozen should be discarded.
• The medicine store should not be located in direct sunlight or adjacent to any source of direct heat.
• The medicine store should be located indoors (e.g. in an adequately lit shed)

Safe Storage

• Livestock medicines must be kept out of the reach of children
• The medicine store should be locked when not in use. The key should be kept in a safe location. All farm workers should know the store location.
• The medicine store should contain a clear warning label.
• Do not store medicines in close proximity to animal feed. Any medicated feed (if prescribed) should be clearly labelled and stored away from ordinary feed.
• Dairies are an unsafe place to store medicines, accidental contamination of milk could potentially occur.
• Do not store medicines near household food (e.g. deep freezes, fridges) in case of accidental contamination of food.
• Store medicines separately to other farm chemicals (e.g. weedkillers, disinfectants). Animals have been poisoned where farm chemicals were given by mistake.
• Segregate and preferably remove expired medicines from ‘in use’ medicines.
• All spillage’s should be removed immediately from the medicine store and disposed of in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.
See less See more
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.