On Your Side Investigates: Expired medicine in the Pine Belt

On Your Side Investigates: Expired medicine in the Pine Belt

PINE BELT (WDAM) - When your child has a runny nose, sometimes the first thing parents do is run to the store and pick up some cold medicine.

We asked people in the Pine Belt if they check the expiration date on over-the-counter medicines.

"(I) never look because I always assume its current, " one resident said.

Perry County resident Linda Palmer said she always checks the expiration dates on medication.

"One time at the Dollar Store I found some vitamins that were outdated," Palmer said.

WDAM 7 News set out to see if we could find outdated medicine at stores in the Pine Belt, and we found a number of outdated items on the shelves.

At Family Dollar in Hattiesburg, we came across a box of saline drops for kids that expired in December  2014.

And at Family Dollar in Petal, there was acetaminophen for children on the shelf that expired in December 2013.

At just this store, we found seven different medications that were expired.

From there, we went to Walgreens in Hattiesburg, which one of the largest drug retailing chains in the country.

We ran across a box of cough and congestion medicine that expired in December 2015.

We visited total of 13 stores and found 14 bottles that was past its shelf life.

Pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Burkett said outdated medicine can pose many risks to children.

"You don't want to give your special loved one something that's out of date, something that may potentially hurt them," Burkett said.

He said the expiration date is the time frame that a particular medicine will be safe and effective.

"Worse case, it could potentially be life threatening (and) could cause a reaction or even death in some instances," Burkett said.

With that in mind, we went to the Family Dollar in Petal to get answers from the store's manager.

When the manager was asked about the expired medicine in the store, he said he was not aware of it.

We reached out to the corporate offices of all the stores, and so far, only Family Dollar and Walgreens has responded.

Family Dollar corporate offices emailed WDAM 7 News this statement:

As part of Family Dollar's "freshness program," we ask our Associates to check the dates on various items once a week when they re-stock shelves. When items that are nearing their expiration or "best by" date are identified, they are either removed or marked down – depending on the item. In this instance it's evident that these items were missed by our store teams. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. Please know that we will be reviewing these sections in all area stores to ensure we have identified any aged product. Additionally, we will use this opportunity to reiterate the details of our program to our Associates to ensure its importance is understood and that protocols are followed.

Walgreens corporate office released this statement:

"We have procedures in place to routinely check the expiration dates on items, and we take those procedures very seriously. We have since checked the expiration dates at the store in question and will review our procedures with store employees."