freelance journalist, print journalist, online journalist, copywriter, content editor, freelance editor, health and lifestyle, blogger When medicine does more harm than good | Christine Morgan - Journalist
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It goes without saying that most people realise that medicines can be dangerous if you take too high a dose, for instance, or too frequent a dose (which amounts to the same thing, an overdose).  But according to a new survey by Lloydspharmacy, a surprisingly high number of people are risking their health, not by overdosing on medicine, but by taking out-of-date remedies.

The risk is, of course, different to that of overdosing. At the very least, says Melinda Setanoians (a prescribing pharmacist at Lloydspharmacy), out-of-date medicines may be less effective – and that can have implications if you rely on a medicine, say if you were a diabetic, for instance. Then there are old ointments, sprays and creams that could be brimming with bacteria, causing skin infections and again, not doing the job they’re supposed to do.

So what, you might be thinking, it’s hardly life-threatening. Well it could be if you had a serious allergy, for instance, and – while having an anaphylactic shock after accidentally eating shellfish or peanuts, for instance – you discovered you out-of-date adrenalin pen wasn’t doing the job it should do.

The most surprising part of this story is the number of people – 24 percent – who say they’ve taken out-of-date medicines. That’s quite a high number when you think about the potential harm taking old medicines could cause. Or am I being a bit of a riskfactorphobe myself on this occasion?

The survey also suggests that almost half of us put unused medicines in the bin or down the toilet/sink instead of taking them to the nearest pharmacy to be disposed of safely. No, I don’t know what happens to the medicines once they leave the pharmacy, but I do know that flushing them or binning them is not a good idea where the environment is concerned.

Lloydspharmacy recommends a good old clear out of your medicine cabinet to check for expired medicines. Which is exactly what I’m off to do now…