In ophthalmology, doctors and nurses have to administer different medications. Some medications are in multiple-dose containers, but some institutions have policies requiring the disposal of the drug after a single use. Unfortunately, these policies have led to a lot of medicine going right into the trash. Read on to learn why you shouldn’t discard eye medication before expiration.
One of the biggest reasons you shouldn’t throw away medication after a single use is that this leads to drug shortages. If you were supposed to throw the medications away, they would package them as single doses so usable medication didn’t end up in the trash.
These different institutional policies result from misunderstanding rules from other organizations like the FDA, TJC, and USP. Currently, none of these regulatory groups require discarding medication before the expiration date listed on the bottle. Therefore, any disposal of medication before the expiration date, except for in instances where the medicine is contaminated, contributes to these drug shortages.
Another reason why you shouldn’t throw away eye medication before its expiration date is because you can save yourself and your patients money. The medications are expensive, and throwing away multiple doses is not a financially sound thing to do. When you use multidose bottles for numerous patients, you save around $300 per patient, a staggering cost that quickly adds up.
Throwing usable medications away has contributed to the rise in healthcare costs and patients’ unwillingness to get treated before their conditions worsen. By saving on these medications, you can lower costs and better treat the patients who need help.
The Expiration Dates
In addition to throwing the medication out after one use, there is also the question of the expiration dates themselves. Wiley Chambers, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in the Ophthalmology Division, questions the expiration dates used.
Most medications technically expire 28 days after opening, but this number is arbitrary. Chambers calls on the FDA and more ophthalmic clinics to take a more data-supported approach regarding expiration dates. Much like the policies that say to use medication only for a single patient, the expiration date policy has little to no scientific basis.
You shouldn’t discard eye medication before expiration for all of the above-listed reasons. It is a harmful and dangerous practice that has led to drug shortages that hurt the entire ophthalmological industry.
Here at Automated Ophthalmics, we understand the importance of having a readily available supply on hand. We are an ophthalmic equipment supplier that can help you find the supplies and equipment you need to ensure you are serving your patients as best as you can.