In the course of managing illness, general aches and pains – nearly any condition that affects the human body – pills are commonplace. It’s possible for a person to be reliant upon so many prescriptions that keeping track may seem like a part-time job.
Usually, this job is guided by the labeling on a pill’s packaging. Sometimes, however, those little colored marvels of medicine get away from us. Maybe you were traveling and had used a travel-size container to carry medications. You may be helping to care for someone who’s placed her pills in a pill organizer, which can be handy, but lacks the detailed information of the packaging. For any number of reasons, you may find yourself needing medication identification. As long as you have an Internet connection, help is a few clicks away.
Medication Identification Is A Few Clicks Away With Online Tools
Several tools have popped up to identify medications, based upon three criteria: any letters or numbers imprinted on the pill, its shape and its color. WebMd, a vast online clearinghouse of health information, offers the extremely user-friendly “Pill Identification Tool,” which can identify thousands of medications instantly. Wondering about a round, pale-purple pill marked “44 452?” In a flash, you’ll find that’s 80 milligrams of acetaminophen.
Once the medication identification has been accomplished, another concern might be its expiration date. After all, you won’t find that on the pill. And without that bit of information, the pill is useless, right? Well, likely not. The Los Angeles Times , for example, reported in 2012 on research conducted by the California Poison Control System and the University of California. The study examined eight medications – 28 to 40 years past their expiration dates – containing a total of 15 active ingredients. Of those, only two ingredients, aspirin and amphetamine, had lost at least 10 percent of their effectiveness. “The expiration date on a drug is usually one to five years after it was manufactured,” the research team shared, according to the Times. “But those dates are often set arbitrarily, since the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require pharmaceutical makers to test how long the active ingredients will last.”
As explained by the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide , a 1979 law simply requires an expiration date on medicines advising that active ingredients will be effective at least until a certain point, not the date when effectiveness is expected to wane. The Health Guide also cites Food and Drug Administration research that looked at more than 100 drugs and found 90 percent efficacy after 15 years.
While some crucial medications may need to be at full strength, knowing that most medications are effective for years can offer peace of mind. Coupled with tools to identify nearly any pill, there’s no need for a medical mystery.