rthstewart: (0)
rthstewart ([personal profile] rthstewart) wrote 2016-11-13 06:08 am (UTC)

Hey, sweetie, I'm so sorry and I know you're hurting and scared. So, let's talk about expiration dating on drugs first. All drugs, both over the counter (OTC) and prescription are required to have expiration dates. They are usually for a minimum of 2 years and may be longer. My menopause hormones, refilled last month, carry an expiration dating of 01/2018. That means that the manufacturer has stability data on file showing that the product will remain stable and potent under normal storage conditions until at least January 31, 2018. (storing drugs in bathrooms is bad for them because of heat and humidity, even though that's where everyone stores them, including me).

Now, here's something important. The exp dating will be on the drug's outer package and inner container, with some exceptions. With OTC drugs and products like BC pills, inhalers, and nasal sprays, they come in a neat, contained package with lots of paper. This is called unit of use packaging, it comes directly from the manufacturer though sold by the pharmacist and you'll be able to find the exp date on it. BUT, the amber vials you get from a pharmacy (say a 30 days supply of tablets) come from a big bottle of maybe 100 or 1,000 pills that the pharmacy purchased. That big bulk bottle on the pharmacy shelf will have an expiration date, but the little vial you get from the pharmacy will probably state, don't use after one year from date of dispensing. (if there are any pharmacists to confirm this, let me know)

Now the drug might degrade faster in a amber bottle, or it might not. But your BC pills and plan B will probably stay potent longer according to the packaging. After the stated expiration date, the manufacturer doesn't have data to support the drug's continued potency and it will begin to degrade and lose its potency. Now if you're dealing with allergy meds or pain reliever, NBD. BUT with contraceptives, you want hem fully potent. So, I don't recommend testing the outer limits of expiration dating for contraceptives.

So, let's talk about access. I would not worry about Plan B access in California; if you were in rural Kansas I'd worry. The drug will probably be good for 2 years, but it might be longer so go and look at a package on the pharmacy shelf or ask the pharmacist to help you find and read the date. If having a package makes you feel better, go for it. If you have a failure or fear and you want to take something RIGHT AWAY and not get out of bed and go to the pharmacy. But, also shop around if you have time! It might be cheaper at Walmart or Target (and available online from VIPPS pharmacies). These are expensive products, relatively speaking, and there have been older reports of counterfeiting so don't buy from a non-VIPPS pharmacy.

As for stockpiling BC pills, look at the expiration dating first. Unlike controlled substances, I'm not aware of any restriction upon a physician writing you a prescription for, say a year's supply of BC pills or that would limit a pharmacist from dispensing it. BUT, if your reason for doing this is getting coverage, for that year's supply, that could be a problem because your insurer probably won't pay for it all, means your stuck with the out of pocket cost. If you lose your prescription coverage (and I hope you don't), definitely start shopping around at VIPPS pharmacies, Costco, Walmart, and Planned Parenthood, and check whether your doctor can give you a script for a generic, and if not, look at prescripton drug payment assistance programs and coupons. Generic companies don't offer them but brand companies do and I expect a proliferation of these programs if people lose their drug coverage.

Good questions. I hope that helps!

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