When the **** hits the fan

Biker Bear

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If they expired several months or even just weeks ago, there's no point in taking them.
I'm sorry, but with a few very specialized exceptions that's simply not true. Expiration dates are very conservatively set and properly stored dry-form medications are very likely to be good well past their expiration dates. Exactly how far depends on the drug and the conditions in which they were stored, of course.
 

Stress_Test

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Even powerful poisons have a shelf-life. One of the young men who failed to kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand back in 1914, drank a bottle of poison that was professionally compounded. He then tossed himself into the river. But the poison had expired. Rather than killing him, it simply made him violently ill. He survived, was fished out of the river by the Authorities, and arrested. One of his co-conspiratores was successful later in the day.


Ah that brings back memories of high school history class...

If I remember right, the guy you're thinking of was Princip(?), can't quite remember the first name; Gavrillo I think. Anyway, he was in fact the successful assassin, though somewhat by stroke of fortune. He was a member of the "Black Hand" society who were out to assassinate the archduke, but Princip lost his nerve. However, the archduke's driver happened to pull the car up directly in front of the reluctant hitman, who proceeded to pop him with his pistol.

He then fled to a bridge over a river, and bit down on his glass cyanide capsule, then hurled himself into the river. He was unlucky on two counts: (1) the "river" was more like a sewage drain trench from the city, and not very deep, and (2) the incorrect mix of cyanide made him violently ill rather than killing him. So, he found himself up to his waist in sh.... er, sewage, and puking his guts out, as my history teacher re-enacted with sound effects like BBLLLLEEEEEUUUURRRRGHHHH!!!!!!

Which is when the authorities caught up with him. I bet there were no eager volunteers to fish the guy out. A rather fitting situation for the guy who kicked off WWI, which led directly into WWII.


My memory may be a little off because it's been about a decade since I was in that history class :eek:
 

Monocrom

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I'm sorry, but with a few very specialized exceptions that's simply not true. Expiration dates are very conservatively set and properly stored dry-form medications are very likely to be good well past their expiration dates. Exactly how far depends on the drug and the conditions in which they were stored, of course.

My professor hurt himself today. Class was let out early. No class on Fridays. I should have a definite answer for you guys by late Monday night.
 

Monocrom

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My memory may be a little off because it's been about a decade since I was in that history class :eek:

You might be right. But I heard he was simply caught off-guard the first time. Thinking it was all over, he went to buy a sandwich. The archduke's driver got confused, and took a wrong turn. Guess who happened to be on the wrong-turn street. Part of it was the archduke's fault since he survived an earlier attack that day when a grenade was tossed at his coach. But he decided to continue on with the "tour," for lack of a better term. You're right about the sewage. The two men who fished him out were immortalized in a photo that was snapped right afterwards.
 

kwak

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The guys name was "Gavrilo Princip" He did indeed shoot and kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, but he did not try taking cyanide, he actually tried turning his gun on himself after the event but was stopped by a by-stander.

It was actually "Nedjelko Cabrinovic" that attempted the assassination earlier in the day.
Depending on the account you read either the Archduke's driver accelerated and the bomb rolled under the 2nd car in the escort, or Nedjelko forgot about the 10 second delay.
Either way he failed to kill the Archduke but did attempt to take his own life afterwards, by taking the cyanide capsule and jumping into the River Miljacka, but as has been said earlier the capsule failed to kill him.

Oddly enough as these things go it was on his way to visit the injured parties from the failed attempt that they just happened to pass Gavrilo Princip.
Even more odd is the fact that they had not planned to take the route where Gavrilo Princip was standing, General Potiorek had selected a route that was considered safer, unfortunately no one had told the driver this.

They actually drove past Gavrilo Princip and he thought he had missed his chance, General Potiorek realising the driver had taken the wrong route shouted his commands to the driver who then stopped and reversed.

It was then Gavrilo Princip carried out his assassination.

Another interesting fact is that both Gavrilo Princip and Nedjelko Cabrinovic were seriously ill with tuberculosis and both were considered minors (under 20 years old) so both avoid execution, but both still died of tuberculosis.
Princip is 1918
Cabrinovic in 1916
(The assassination was carried out in 1914)

I have read reports that Gavrilo Princip also attempted to take his cyanide pill, but as Cabrinovic he also vomited it out, but my belief is that both Cabrinovic's and Princip's stories have been mixed up, as if he was wrestled to the ground to stop him shooting himself i can't see how he could have taken a cyanide capsule.


Still interesting story in history.


Cheers
Mark
 

Monocrom

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Apologies for the slight delay regarding the answers concerning antibiotic shelf-life.

Learned a few interesting things from my professor who, keep in mind, has completed the mandatory 6 years training to become a Pharmacist and will soon be licensed as one.

When it comes to expired antibiotics, it's not as though we're dealing with a package of hard candy that is (for example) 2 weeks past the expiration date. You can take those with no problem. With antibiotics, it's more like drinking a glass of milk that is 2 weeks past the expiration date. Problem is, unlike expired milk, some meds have a foul odor when they are properly compounded. In fact, if there isn't an odor when there should be; it usually means someone messed up while compounding. And screwed up big time!

With expired antibiotics, when it's no longer pure; it can actually become incompatible with itself. Over the course of that time, it may have broken down into something else. It's then no longer an antibiotic. Taking it could realistically result in severe diahrea, constipation, vomitting, and even death (if the patient is already ill and needs the pure form of the antibiotic).

Due to the breakdown that occurs over time, expiration dates on antibiotics are not conservative at all. Taking an expired vitamin or piece of hard candy isn't going to be an issue. Drinking expired milk is not going to be fun. Taking expired antibiotics could easily become a serious issue.
 
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Monocrom

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So what about Benadryl??? It's an Anti-Hystamine, correct?

Yes, that's correct. The problem with it though is that one of its main side effects is drowsiness. And, not a mild form either. When you have a drug that is also sold as a sleep-aid, due to a side-effect, that's not something I'd want to take during a SHTF situation. It'll definitely fix one problem, but cause another one. Whether it's prescription strength or the non-prescription version, not worth taking either one if the medication is expired.

In higher doses, the active ingrediant can cause some major side-effects that would be far worse in a SHTF situation than just being very drowsy. Blurred vision, hallucinations, some memory loss, and confusion . . . and a few others as well.
 

Biker Bear

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When it comes to expired antibiotics, it's not as though we're dealing with a package of hard candy that is (for example) 2 weeks past the expiration date. You can take those with no problem. With antibiotics, it's more like drinking a glass of milk that is 2 weeks past the expiration date. Problem is, unlike expired milk, some meds have a foul odor when they are properly compounded. In fact, if there isn't an odor when there should be; it usually means someone messed up while compounding. And screwed up big time!

With expired antibiotics, when it's no longer pure; it can actually become incompatible with itself. Over the course of that time, it may have broken down into something else. It's then no longer an antibiotic. Taking it could realistically result in severe diahrea, constipation, vomitting, and even death (if the patient is already ill and needs the pure form of the antibiotic).

Due to the breakdown that occurs over time, expiration dates on antibiotics are not conservative at all. Taking an expired vitamin or piece of hard candy isn't going to be an issue. Drinking expired milk is not going to be fun. Taking expired antibiotics could easily become a serious issue.
There isn't a lot here that I can directly object to, but in light of your earlier comments I'm still left feeling there's something wrong here. You give me the impression that you feel that a dose of antibiotic a day before expiration is perfectly fine - and a day after it may as well be deadly poison, and that just doesn't make sense.

Any pharmaceutical will start to degrade after it's manufactured; sticking to antibiotics, I can see a relatively simple molecule like tetracycline being more "durable" than a huge glycopeptide like vancomycin or macrolides like erythromycin. Storage conditions absolutely will impact how rapidly the drug degrades - kept from light, moisture, heat and oxygen any of them will last longer than if exposed to those destabilizing factors. (I'd be willing to bet the expiration dates presume reasonable handling and storage - not being left outside in summer heat, for instance.)

You are absolutely correct that some antibiotics may well degrade into toxic substances - but that could be true of many pharmaceuticals. My point is simply that it's a gradual process, one that can be retarded by proper storage and which does not mystically accelerate sharply after a certain date. An exact determination on how far past expiration one could get away with using them would depend on the exact drug, exactly how it's been stored, and for how long. I suspect the pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to put out this kind of information because the last thing they want to do is in any way "encourage" people to use post-expiration drugs and potentially expose themselves to liability - however much we might want to know out of curiousity, or for the purposes of a Stuff Hits The Fan thought experiment.

Yes, that's correct. The problem with it though is that one of its main side effects is drowsiness. And, not a mild form either. When you have a drug that is also sold as a sleep-aid, due to a side-effect, that's not something I'd want to take during a SHTF situation. It'll definitely fix one problem, but cause another one. Whether it's prescription strength or the non-prescription version, not worth taking either one if the medication is expired.
On the other hand, if someone needs to be sedated/tranquilized and that's all you've got - it's better than nothing. And despite the sedative effect, it's still one of the most effective antihistamines we have for a severe reaction, and for things like hives. Though, truth be told, if I could only have ONE drug on hand in a SHTF situation, it would probably be codeine. Best cough suppressant ever, a great antidiarrheal and a fine painkiller.
 

Monocrom

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I realize that the information I posted is indeed 2nd-hand. However, my professor is as far removed from a traditional pharmacist as we are from folks who think nothing outperforms a Maglite. This is one time when the greedy pharmacutical companies aren't out to maximize profits. And my professor has indeed told the class that that is often what they do. He's also made it clear that he isn't on any prescription meds, and has advised the class to avoid them unless absolutely necessary. And even then, to get off of them as soon as possible. He mentioned how in the past, doctors who considered prescribing C-II meds would first have the patient tested to see if he'd be likely to develop an addiction to it. Not anymore! That's no longer done. Just give the narcotic to the patient and well . . . We'll see what happens later. It's a rare thing indeed to find a pharmacist who is on any long-term prescription drugs. (They know what's in all the drugs.)

With some meds, that typically have a 2-day shelf life if left out at room temp.; you can make them last 10 days in the fridge. But toss it in the freezer, and you risk formation of ice crystals. A bottle of antibiotics that expired weeks ago isn't going to be just as good as it was, simply because it was kept in the fridge. With a SHTF scenario, prepping is key. But there's certain items you can't put into a BOB or a basement pantry and let sit around until something happens, possibly years down the road. Unfortunately, life-saving antibiotics is one of them.

With A.O.W.'s question, I assumed he meant someone using it on themselves. (Instead of having to sedate another individual. But that's one possibility.)
 

Lit Up

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preparation is still the biggest factor otherwise!) but enough people would be able to pull it off to keep humanity from going extinct. That is, unless we're also being hunted down by Skynet at the same time. Then we're screwed!! :eek:oo:

Nah, John Conner would pull us through considering The Terminator is gonna be too busy getting his pockets cleaned in divorce court to chase him down. :D
 

Diesel_Bomber

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Whether taking antibiotics that are expired is going to be better than battling pneumonia single handedly in a SHTF situation will be up to each individual to make.

I would rather have the expired antibiotics on hand and be able to make the choice, than not.
 

Monocrom

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I would rather have the expired antibiotics on hand and be able to make the choice, than not.

That's a choice that hopefully no one will have to make. I just wanted to be sure everyone reading this thread knew all the factors involved in taking expired antibiotics. That they'd be realistically taking something that is now no longer even compatible with itself. Something that, medically speaking, has likely broken down into something that isn't even an antibiotic.

The choice now becomes (for example) . . . Battling pneumonia without any meds. vs. Taking something that in all probability won't do anything to help fight the pneumonia, or if it does; will be too mild to make a difference. Plus, could lead to vomitting, diahrea, constipation, stomach pains, and even death.

Yes, it's an individual choice. I just want everyone to be fully informed of the realistic risks involved.

Edit:

A mild example would be waking up in the middle of the night with bad heartburn. No heartburn medicine in the home. You remember that milk works quite well at reducing the effects. You go to the fridge, grab the milk, then realize it's been expired for a couple of weeks. There's now chunks in it, a foul odor, and even worse taste. Technically it's still milk. Do you drink it anyway, with the hope that your stomach won't cause you to throw it back up the instant you swallow it? Is it even likely at this point to fix the heartburn?
 
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jtr1962

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It might be a good idea to learn which plants are natural antibiotics given the limited shelf-life of the man-made stuff. After all, many drugs come from plants. The end result of using plant-based remedies may not be as good as what you buy, but it's certainly better than nothing, or using expired antibiotics.

On another note, don't discount the body's immune system. A few summers ago I had what I'm pretty sure was West Nile Virus. I started getting really sick a few days after I noticed some mosquito bites. My fever climbed as high as 105. Since I have no health insurance and no money to see a doctor, I had to make do as best I could. I took aspirin and some over the counter stuff for flu (forgot what, exactly). The fever broke a few days later. For a while afterwards I had pretty severe muscle weakness, mostly noticeable when cycling (just no power for those quick bursts of speed). Bottom line is I did exactly what most people in a SHTF situation would have to do-rely mostly on your body's immune system and common drugs to fight the infection. I also tend to think by letting your body do that, it builds up your immune system. Relying on antibiotics whenever you're sick could result in the flu being a death sentence in a SHTF scenario. Oh yeah, I had an awful case of the flu in December 2008, to the point I fainted twice. Again, I got through it just fine without relying on doctors. An OTC flu remedy may have helped a bit, but I think good old aspirin made most of the difference.
 
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