3 On Your Side Investigates: Expired on Sale - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side Investigates: Expired on Sale

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -

It's a billion dollar business that makes its money in low-income neighborhoods in and around the Capital City: variety stores, also known as dollar stores.

While those stores may lead to big savings, they could also be stocking drugs that don't need to be sold - drugs that are expired and on sale.

Some of those drugs may be in your home right now, because many don't check the expiration date before we buy.

Three On Your Side found out-of-date children's medication in six of seven stores in the Jackson metro area.

At Fred's Super Dollar on Terry Road, we discovered a sleep aid that should have been pulled after May of 2015.

At least two expired drugs remained on the shelves at the Family Dollar on Daniel Lake Boulevard.

Then, at a Dollar General on Capitol Street, we counted three drugs that shouldn't have been sold. 

A store clerk, who asked what we were trying to buy, refused to sell us any of the old medications, but only after we told her they were out of date.

At the Dollar General on Highway 49 in Florence, we purchased expired medication and the cashier didn't check the dates at all.

Are these expiration dates that important?

"The expiration date guarantees that the potency and active ingredients are going to be within that range during that time of the expiration date, and so if you're taking meds outside that expiration date, you definitely have some cause for question with that," said Dr. Todd Dear, assistant director of pharmacy services for the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Dear said there aren't any studies or evidence that these expired drugs are unsafe, but the Food and Drug Administration says it only guarantees the effectiveness of those medications if they're used by that date.

In the Jackson metro area, we found six different stores with these outdated meds sitting on the shelf.

Who's responsible for policing this?

Right now, the FDA states selling expired medications is illegal, but the agency defers to state and local authorities to enforce that.

"Who would have the authority to regulate? You took time out of your day to check some shelves, but would we have inspectors? Those things would come into question, and how often would they have to man?" Dear said.

Mississippi doesn't enforce the removal of expired over-the-counter medication either, meaning it's up to the store's employees to find and weed those drugs out.

In the cases we found, most stockers didn't, which means consumers have to do the work themselves.

"I would encourage people to protect themselves and just make that part of their purchasing process of looking at the date, whether that's a medicine, whether that's a piece of candy, whether that's meat at the grocery store," said Dear. "Definitely, I wouldn't be happy if there was an expired product on any of those shelves for me or my family."

Both Dollar General and Family Dollar issued statements saying they plan to review the findings and offer additional training to address the matter.

A spokesperson for Fred's Dollar Stores did not return requests for comment.

That being said, before you buy any over-the-counter medication, experts urge you to check the bottom of the packaging before you buy.

You should also go through your medicine cabinet to see if you've purchased anything outdated.

In some cases, stores may give you a refund, as long as you still have your receipt.

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