Sunday, 9 August 2015

How often do you use drugs?

Or any kind of medication, for that matter?

About four weeks ago, on a lovely country walk, I got stung or bitten on the arm by some kind of insect.  I noticed something, but thought no more of it until the next day, when it had pumped itself up to visibly swollen, florid proportions.  Ah, antihistamine, I thought, and found a tube in my medicine chest.  It had been there for about two years, since the last time I got stung, and was just within its ‘use by’ date, but I didn’t trust it, so I nipped down the chemists, checked with the pharmacist that there weren’t any contra-indications with the warfarin, and got a new tube.  A couple of days’ worth of application did the trick.

So I now have an almost-full tube of antihistamine cream, with an expiry date  of June 2017.  It contains 25 grams, minus the one or two grams I used on the sting; and of course, having been opened, it’s probably going to go off more quickly.  So to get full value out of this purchase, I need to get bitten or stung about 24 times over the next twenty months or so.

I had the same problem today with Savlon, after a brief collision with the sharp end of the iron.  Luckily my current tube of this wonderful stuff is well within its date, but, again, I’m not planning to cut, burn or otherwise injure myself sufficiently to get to the bottom of the tube before it becomes unuseable.

You can’t buy this stuff in small enough quantities to avoid binning eighty percent of it.  (It’s like spices, about which I’ve blogged before, but much more important.)  No wonder big pharma makes the profits.



Don’t even start me on cancer treatments, anti-virals or immunisation.  They managed to roll out the Ebola vaccine in just twelve months – no mention yet of the impact on their bottom line.  It can be done.  They just need to be shamed into doing it.



  1. I'm sure you'll get stung again soon Tim. Probably in the Chemist's...

  2. I assume it'll be fine, unless it smells as if it's gone off. Same principle as eating yoghurt after it's use-by date.