Beware of expired medicines

The Consumer Council is urging pharmacies to refrain from selling expired medicines which may compromise consumers? health and safety.

The Council is concerned that despite recent efforts to implement stronger laws and regulations in the pharmaceutical sector, some pharmacists continue to engage in bad practices.

The Council?s Lautoka office received a complaint from a consumer who purchased a bottle of 125mg of amoxil on 12th May 2013 worth $9.95 but had already expired in February 2013. The antibiotic was intended for his 3-month-old baby. The complainant was lucky to have had the foresight to read the expiry date before giving the expired medicine to his baby.

While the pharmacy had provided replacement medicine, refunded the cost of the expired amoxil and compensated the travel costs, there is no excuse for pharmacies to be selling expired medicines. The Council is concerned that despite widespread publicity on its report Prices and Practices: Pharmaceutical Survey 2010 and consequent action by policymakers to update and strengthen laws and regulations, there continues to be non-compliance in the sector.

It appears that consumers continue to face potential risks in the pharmaceutical sector. In this case the medication was still on the shelf although it expired 3 months ago. The Council urges the Fiji Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Services to take stronger enforcement and monitoring action to curb such bad and dangerous practices.

We also call on the Fiji Pharmaceutical Society to take the appropriate action and alert its members about this matter.

Pharmacies and pharmacists are being reminded that there is absolutely no room for any laxity as people?s lives are at stake. ?The Council expects pharmacies to exercise social responsibility and not try to seek sympathy by blaming human error. In fact consumer laws are in place to protect consumers from such human errors.

Consumers are also advised to check the expiry dates on medication to avoid any mishap. The Council also advises consumers to notify relevant authorities immediately should they come across pharmacies selling expired medicines or to lodge their complaints with the Council.

Premila Kumar

Chief Executive Officer