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Think Out Loud

Expired Medications

Curtis Gregory Perry / Creative Commons

A few days ago on Here & Now we heard a story about how drug shortages across the country are affecting emergency medicine. In the conversation they said that in Oregon some ambulances are now carrying expired medications. Our response in the office was, “really?” So we dug in.

And sure enough, in late June, The Oregon Health Authority temporarily adopted a rule permitting expired pharmacological and medical supplies in ambulances. In Bend, paramedics began dealing with drug shortages back in 2010. Earlier this year they were carrying up to 11 medications that were expired.

In Washington County, however, Metro West Ambulance says that although drug shortages are a big problem, they have yet had to resort to carrying expired medications. They say that “good connections” and relationships with vendors have allowed them to always carry unexpired medications.

We’ll find out what drugs are in shortest supply, and what it means if you are given expired medications.

What’s your expreience with drug shortages in emergency — or non-emergency — medical care? Have you taken, or given, outdated medicine?

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