About 20% of items in household medicine cabinets in Malaga are past their expiry date

Medication past its expiry date can cause an allergic reaction. :: SUR
Medication past its expiry date can cause an allergic reaction. :: SUR
  • Pharmacists recommend checking the dates on all the contents and say they should never be kept in the bathroom or kitchen

A home without a medicine cabinet is like a garden with no flowers, but it is essential to know how to store medicinal items and when they are due to expire, to prevent problems arising from their use in the future.

According to the president of the Malaga College of Pharmacists, Francisco Florido, 20 per cent of items in medicine cabinets in private homes are out of date. He provided this information during a press conference to mark World Pharmacy Day earlier this week, and explained that an awareness campaign called 'Pon en orden tu salud, pon en orden tus medicamentos' (meaning 'put your health in order, put your medicinal items in order')is now being carried out in the province. The campaign has been organised in conjunction with SIGRE, and the 680 pharmacies in Malaga are taking part.

Florido says that although a first aid kit is essential in every household, the items it contains must be stored correctly and should be checked periodically to make sure they are not past their expiry date. If they are, they should be taken immediately to a pharmacy so they can be recycled safely.

He also recommends that medicine cabinets should not be kept in the kitchen or the bathroom; they should be in a room where there is no damp or heat.

Taking medicine which is past its expiry date is counterproductive for several reasons. Firstly, because it is much less effective, and secondly because it can cause an allergic or other type of reaction.

Francisco Florido stressed that the medicines in a first aid kit should be ones which are dispensed without a prescription, such as antiseptics, analgesics and creams, gauze and plasters. With regard to antibiotics, these should only be taken as prescribed. It is important to know what all the items in the medicine cabinet are used for and, if there is any doubt, this should be checked with a chemist.

The campaign has begun with an information stand in Plaza Félix Saenz in Malaga city, and this will be taken to Mijas Costa, Antequera and Ronda on 3, 4 and 5 October respectively. To encourage people to store medication properly, 50,000 leaflets will also be given out between now and 11 October.

“About 75 per cent of the medicinal items in people's homes have not been used in the past 15 days and 20 per cent of those are past their expiry date without anyone realising it,” explained Florido.

He was joined at the press conference by the provincial Health delegate, Ana Isabel González, who stressed the importance of the work carried out by pharmacists and explained that 19 per cent of the Andalusian Health Service budget is spent on pharmaceutical products. She also highlighted the importance of using these properly.

In Malaga province 2,017 pharmacists are registered with the College, and 1,391 of them work in one of the 680 pharmacies. Others work in sectors such as clinical analysis, hospital pharmacies, the pharmaceutical industry, teaching, distribution, dermopharmaceutics, public health, food, ophthalmology and orthopaedics. Statistics show that more women than men work as chemists: at present 64 per cent of those employed in local pharmacies are female.