One in four Britons risk their health by taking out-of-date medicines as 73m expired products are kept in cabinets
08:55 GMT, 26 July 2012
Adults across Britain are putting their lives at risk by taking medication which is out of date, experts said today.
Sixty-two per cent of adults have products in their cabinets which are beyond their expiry dates, research found.
Health workers described the findings as 'extremely worrying' and urged people to check medicines and take a note of when they go out of date.
Risk: Sixty-two per cent of adults have products in their cabinets beyond their expiry dates, research has shown
The study, which surveyed 5,000 people, found that a quarter of British adults have knowingly taken
medicine which is out of date.
And 7 per cent of people do not think medicines have an expiry date.
The study, conducted on behalf of over-the-counter medicine range Care, suggests that on average there are more than two products in each medicine cabinet which have gone past their expiry date.
Researchers say this figure means that an estimated 73million out-of-date products have been stocked up in medicine cabinets across the country.
Dangerous: The study found that a quarter of British adults have knowingly taken medicine which is out of date
London-based GP Dr Sarah Jarvis said: 'It is extremely worrying to hear so many of us are taking out of date medicines.
'Just like food that goes off, medicines past their expiry date can deteriorate and make you ill.
'You need to be particularly careful with your eyes, nose or a wound as these areas are especially prone to letting in bacteria.'
English Pharmacy Board member Sid Dajani added: 'People are risking their lives by not taking the use by dates on their medicines seriously.
'The danger is what they don't do for you – anti-seizure drugs resulting in fits, people with asthma suffocating because their blue inhaler doesn't work or pregnancy tests showing a false negative because the active HCG reagent is too old.
'I urge everybody to check the use by date before taking medication, and to return out of date medicines to their local pharmacy where they'll be disposed of safely.'
The research also showed that two-fifths of adults do not read patient information leaflets and 12 per cent admitted that they guess the correct dosage.
Care spokeswoman Leanne Doughty said: 'It is essential that families hold on to the packaging and patient information leaflets to ensure safe, effective dosage – and to check their medicines are in date.'