Pills Medicine

The truth about expired medicine

I recently did a massive purge of my bathroom cabinets and drawers. It was one of those epic cleansing rituals that leaves you with five bags of garbage and a smug, satisfied feeling of accomplishment.

My only conundrum?

One of those garbage bags is full to the brim of expired medications. Headache tables, antibiotics, steroid creams, sleeping tablets: they’re all in there, anything from three months to three years past their due date.

So what do I do with them?

I’ve always taken a pretty hardline stance when it comes to out of date medication: if it’s even one month past the expiration date, I won’t take it, because I’ve always been worried it could make me sick.

But just this morning, I discovered that medicine expiry dates may be something of a myth!

Manufacturers often whack them on the box because it’s not in their best interests, financially, to test whether their products remain effective for longer periods. After all, they’d much prefer you bin the headache tablets that have been in the back of your medicine cabinet for two years, and buy brand new ones.

However sometimes, the medications can be perfectly fine for years beyond their expiration date.

Lee Cantrell, who helps run the California Poison Control System in the United States, recently tested a cache of medications that were 30 to 40 years past their expiration date – and the results were surprisingly positive!

Out of 14 compounds, 12 were still as potent as they were when they were manufactured, some at almost 100 percent of their labelled concentrations. “Lo and behold,” Cantrell says, “the active ingredients are pretty darn stable.”

In other words: half of my garbage bag full of ‘best before meds’ are probably just as effective at alleviating a headache or boosting my iron levels as they ever were.

Obviously there are some medicines that are more time sensitive, so anyone considering popping a Panadol after its expiration date should check with their doctor before doing so.

I’ve readied my collective for the rubbish now, so I’ll continue on with my plans to discard them. Which leads me to my conundrum: What does one do with expired meds? Throw in the wheelie bin with everything else?

Nope, it turns out the better option is to return them to you local pharmacy.

The Meddler

Man who strangled 16-year-old jailed for 12 years

I read a truly disturbing news story this morning about a young woman who was killed.

She was ‘accidentally’ strangled to death, by a man who will spend 12 years behind bars for his crime. The article says she died during sex, but she was very, very drunk, which suggests to me that she died while she was being raped – you can’t consent to sex if you’re more than twice the legal blood limit.

She was 16-years-old, and the man who did it was a friend of her boyfriend. It’s truly a horrific, devastating tragedy.

And it got me thinking about safety – specifically, about teaching our kids to be safe.

I’m not suggesting in any way, shape or form that this beautiful girl deserved what happened to her, or that she is any way to blame for it.

However, there are ways we can minimise our risks in this world.

I have two daughters. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to teach them to be wary of the things that can happen if they don’t have their wits about them. We wouldn’t have to warn them about walking alone at night, or about drinking alcohol around others.

But it’s not a perfect world. So we do.

When my daughters grow up and start experimenting with drugs and alcohol and boys and sex, and all of the things teenage girls eventually start to experiment with, I’m going to encourage them to do so safely.

Which means things like… always ‘buddying up’ with a trusted friend when you drink. Not drinking in unsafe, unfamiliar places, like at parties of people you barely know. And crucially, not drinking yourself into oblivion.

There are bad drivers on the road. To avoid the risk of being killed by one of them, I will teach my kids to wear seatbelts and to look both ways before crossing the road.

There are also bad people out there. To avoid the risk of being killed by one of them, I will teach my kids to be vigilant and safe.

I can remember after Jill Meagher was brutally murdered, discussions such as these were met with accusations of “victim shaming”. But in my view, having open discussions about these types of risks it’s not about shaming the victim or implying they are at fault.

It’s about learning from these tragedies, to help other women and young girls avoid the same terrible fate.


Doli Incapax

In the early hours of the morning following Australia Day last year, 26 year old Patrick Slater was found dead in a Perth railway station, a 25cm chest wound had penetrated his aorta and both lungs. Last week, in the WA Supreme Court, five young adults and one teenager were found guilty of his murder. But not all those allegedly involved in the incident actually went on trial. The youngest – just 11 years of age at the time – remains in legal limbo, awaiting his fate. At that tender age, he achieves the unenviable record of being the youngest person ever to be charged with murder in Australia.

The case is yet another example of the tragic complexities the criminal justice system is so often forced to grapple with – at what stage of a young person’s development do we as a society choose to hold them criminally responsible for their decisions and actions? Where do we draw the legal line-in-the-sand determining when “time out” becomes “hard time”?

Throughout Australia, children under 10 cannot be convicted of a crime as it is legally presumed they are incapable of forming the requisite criminal intent. While the more hard-line observer may recoil in horror at such perceived leniency, it is well to note Australia has one of the lower ages of criminal responsibility in the world. In fact, we are internationally considered to be so harsh in our judgment of when our children should assume legal responsibility that we have drawn strident criticism from the United Nations which promotes an ”absolute minimum” age of 12.

Thankfully, there is some legal protection offered to our children when under 14 years of age. Children aged between 10 and 14 are also deemed incapable of forming criminal intent – but that presumption can be displaced by the prosecution. In order to convict such a child of any crime, the prosecution must rebut that presumption with evidence showing, as a matter of fact, the child knew the criminal act was seriously wrong as opposed to merely naughty or mischievous. This is known as the principle of doli incapax.

Doli incapax has a history almost as ancient as the Latin phrase itself. Examples of its existence can be traced back to the Middle Ages, and as early as 1619 it was expressed in England in the following terms:

“An infant of eight yeares of age or above, may commit Homicide …, and shalbe hanged for it, viz. if it may appeare (by hiding of the person slaine, by excusing it, or by any other acte) that hee had knowledge of good and euill, and of the peril and danger of that offence. But an infant of such tender yeares, as that he hath no discretion or intelligence, if he kill a man, that is no felony in him.”

While some may consider doli incapax to be motivated by compassion, sentiment, or soppy jurisprudential weakness, in truth it is soundly based on hard-headed science. It is a well-established neuroscientific fact that the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which governs skills such as impulse control and decision-making, does not fully develop until well after puberty. As a result, most children under the age of 14 are incapable of fully controlling their behaviour or of understanding the severity of the consequences of their actions. They are generally impulsive, self-centred, driven by instant gratification, easily led astray, and often wildly ill-informed.

In the modern world, the “third parent” television may also play a significant role in distorting a child’s understanding and actions. In particular, the extreme violence and mild consequences taught through movies and video games has led to commentators arguing that children may well be “shocked and distressed to discover that real people do not get up and walk away as they do after lethal attacks in cartoons”.

Meanwhile – newspapers, blogs, comments sections, and Facebook discussion groups blaze with indignant demands that child offenders give up their pound of flesh, and politicians line their ballot boxes with punitive legislation to placate the baying crowd. But in all the hubbub the important legal and scientific rationale behind the concept of doli incapax – one recognised in civilised society since at least the Middle Ages – should not be forgotten or abandoned.

As one of the few legal principles designed to protect children from themselves, this presumption allows children what they deserve – protection if they are unable to understand the wrongfulness of their actions and legal consequences if they do.


Post by Dan Rawlings, Criminal Lawyer

Where do you latte?

Coffee lovers unite! There are so many new kids on the block, it can be hard to keep up.  So that you can spend more time sipping on their liquid gold and less time thinking about where to go, here’s my favourite new café spots…

Marketplace Robina

Shop 71, Arbour Avenue, Robina

Passionate Sydney foodies Matt & Sarah Shaeffer have recently opened the exciting new addition in Robina. With their signature seafoam coloured coffee machine they are the first café on the GC to be serving up the uber popular Glee Coffee Roasters via the central coast. With an all day breakfast and lunch menu these guys are opening up for private events and supporting local artisans with their marketplace stocked full of gifts.

Papercup Coffee Southport

201 Ferry Road, Southport

Next time your heading down or up Ferry Road you might notice a newbie in residence.  The friendly team from Paper Cup Labrador have opened their second venture located within the Southport service station complex.

Their mantra of coffee, eats and blooms has proven popular due to their outstanding service and accessibility. Blackboard coffee and Proud Mary are the beans of choice. Don’t forget to get one of their loyalty cards.

Mr Bengel Palm Beach

1099 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach

Palm Beach welcomed Mr Bengel earlier this year and their tagline of “your friendly neighbourhood café” is paying off. With friendly service, fresh menu options and epic coffee Mr Bengel is third venue from the owners of Justin Lane.

They are serving up supreme coffee roasters and have recently launched their responsible cafes option for customers bringing in their own cup for takeaway receiving a 0.20c discount.

That Blue House Coolangatta

5 Dutton Street, Coolangatta

If you have been to Coolangatta recently you may have noticed the big blue house on Dutton Street just a quick stroll from the beach.

Providing indoor and outdoor seating, wholesome food options and numerous coffee alternatives this spot definitely delivers on the good vibes.

Their signature Corn and chilli fritters and Acai Bowls come highly recommended.

Gold Coast Titans logo on shirt

Season on the line for must-win Titans

Win and stay in the finals hunt, lose and well, let’s not even go there.

That is the equation for the 12th placed Gold Coast Titans as they head to Penrith to take on the 9th placed Panthers on their home deck.

If the Titans are serious about playing finals in 2017, they will win.

Coming off the back of an inspired 30-10 thrashing of last year’s premiers Cronulla, the Titans must arrest their infamous consistency issues and string back to back victories together.

Especially against Penrith, who sit one game and a decent amount of for and against above them on the ladder.

It’s a 4pt game in every respect, but instead of getting excited about the high intensity levels the must-win Titans will play with this weekend, fans are holding their collective breath.

These games are exactly the kind that the Titans have dropped in recent seasons.

Must-win, should win, don’t win.

With no Trent Merrin for Penrith, the Titans have been given a big boost – but perhaps even a more telling decision for coach Neil Henry will be who wears the #6 jersey come kickoff.

The decision whether to retain Tyrone Roberts or to bring Kane Elgey back in from a sternum injury has potentially huge ramifications for the club.

No doubting Roberts and halfback Ash Taylor played well last weekend – Taylor even said as much in the media through the week that he prefers Roberts’ ad-lib style.

But Elgey is the future and, should he fix up his occasional defensive deficiencies, could easily be the games’ best playmaker.

If he is fit but forced to come back through the Tweed Seagulls, Roberts would want to tear up Pepper Stadium like never before.

If the Titans return from Penrith without Elgey AND premiership points, seeds of discontent could begin to take root inside the mind of a young playmaker playing second grade who can’t get into a team who can’t make finals.

Conversely, rushing Elgey back in at the expense of a winning halves combination, whether he plays well or not, could also send the wrong message.

That’s why coaches are paid the big bucks I guess.

Whichever 17 takes the field on Saturday for the Titans, they must reward their selection with a season-best performance.

They simply must get the win.

James and Wallace must dominate, Taylor must execute, and the Hayne Plane must take off.

It’s time for the Titans to turn their consistency issues around and begin to win the games they must.

Their season depends on it.