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When drugs pass their expiry date, when this is not a function of alienation of value, they presumably change their chemical structure to some extent. To take a non-medical example, sugars become ethanol and ethanol becomes ethanoic acid, each of which is pharmacologically different. Similarly, inactivated
pharmaceuticals in sewage can be reactivated by microorganisms or, presumably, otherwise altered. Then there are processes like oxidation, attack by fungi and so on, and when attacked by the right fungi, antibiotics would be produced, as with a bread pill attacked by Penicillium for example.
Two things about this:
i) In certain circumstances the active ingredient will fairly or very predictably become a different active ingredient, or compounds not regarded as active will become so. At such a point, expired medicines would not be so much useless as different, perhaps harmfully so but even then useful as pesticides or something unrelated to biological activities. Therefore, once subject to testing, these could be reused rather than disposed.
ii) Taking this a bit further, drugs could be designed specifically to alter in predictable and useful ways, or otherwise encouraged to change in those ways, for instance by applying certain biological processes to them.
So, basically two drugs (or other useful compounds) for the price of one.
Beat The Reaper
[Whistlebritches, Nov 29 2010]
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||Kind of halfbaked in "Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde"; to recreate the transforming drug he needs to obtain one of the ingredients from the same (old) batch as he used to create it in the first place, which he suspects to have been altered by spoilage or contamination.
||Oh yes, i remember that now. Also in a sense baked by Fleming.
||Reuse of drugs in this way runs counter to the financial interests of the drug makers, who would like to sell new drug for second purpose. They will therefore make scary talk about potential badnesses of altered drug.
||The alteration is somewhat less predictable than this would require.
||//At such a point, expired medicines would not be so much useless as different, perhaps harmfully so but even then useful as pesticides or something unrelated to biological activities. //
||As for testing, see link. Of course there would be no antidotes, but it would still make a great reality TV show.