Letter Re: Seven Secrets of Medical Prepping

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Hugh,

I appreciate the concern pharmacist MDS, Pharm.D. has for keeping all of us safe. His comment regarding the danger of expired tetracycline is worth addressing in more detail.

According to the respected newsletter, The Medical Letter, Vol. 44, Issue 1142, October 28, 2002, “The only report of human toxicity that may have been caused by chemical or physical degradation of a pharmaceutical product is renal tubular damage that was associated with use of degraded tetracycline…Current tetracycline preparations have been reformulated with different fillers to minimize degradation and are unlikely to have this effect.” This refers to a 1963 incident, with apparently no reports since then.

The tetracycline antibiotics commonly used in humans are tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline, with doxycycline being most commonly used and also less expensive. Tetracycline is no longer manufactured in the U.S., apparently due to a shortage of needed raw materials.

Both doctors and pharmacists err on the side of caution when it comes to recommending medications. Yet how far should we extrapolate from an old tetracycline formulation to current drugs? Beyond this report on an old, unstable tetracycline formulation, there is no evidence to say that current tetracyclines will degrade into dangerous compounds. I doubt the editors of The Medical Letter would permit publication of the above safety affirmation without a fair amount of certainty that there is little danger. Also, note that The Medical Letter states that this is the ONLY report of human toxicity due to drug degradation. Overall I find that most reassuring.

Am I absolutely 100% certain that every outdated medication is safe? It’s impossible to know, but testing so far seems to say the risk is minimal. The Shelf Life Extension Program concluded that “84% of 1122 lots of 96 different drug products stored in military facilities in their unopened original containers would be expected to remain stable for an average of 57 months after their original expiration date.”

For a non-prepper article on drug expiration dates, check out “Drug Expiration Dates – Are They Still Safe to Take?” This pharmacist’s conclusion pretty much parallels my own.

HJL Adds: Dr Koelker has promised us an article in the near future dealing with insulin since diabetes is such a rampant disease today. I’m looking forward to that one

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