The Limpopo branch of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has launched an investigation after customers complained they had been sold expired medication at a Clicks Pharmacy. The commission’s provincial manager Victor Mavhidula paid a surprise visit to the store in Thavhani Mall in Thohoyandou last week where he found flu medicine that had passed its sell-by date.

“We visited the pharmacy after we received complaints from customers who were allegedly sold expired medication and, on arrival, we found expired medication inside the store. It’s our duty to protect the health and lives of our people which is why we acted swiftly,” said Mavhidula.

He said the commission would engage the pharmacy further saying it was unacceptable to sell people expired medication that could have a negative impact on their health. “We call on our people to always check the expiry dates of every medication they buy at [all] pharmacies before they use them. We will be taking the matter further as it is our duty to protect our people,” he said.

Safety and efficiency

The expiration date on medications can be found printed on the label or stamped onto the bottle. Pharmacist Ndandu Netshiavha has warned people against using expired drugs because this could be unsafe. “An expiry date on medicine is a date up to which medicine manufacture can guarantee the safety and efficacy of the medicine. This is a legal requirement imposed by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority as the safety and efficiency of medicines after the expiry date cannot be guaranteed and some medicines if taken after they have expired can make you sick,” she explained.

Expired medicine should never be thrown in the dust bin or flushed down the drain or toilet because it could contaminate water, Netshiavha added. She urged people to take expired medicines to their nearest pharmacy which are equipped with the means for disposal.

Clicks responds

When Health-e visited the Clicks Pharmacy in Thohoyandou, the store manager declined to speak, saying the matter had been referred to its provincial head office.

Speaking to Health-e, Clicks spokesperson Susann Caminada said the chain store has begun its own investigation. She said: “We take complaints of this nature very seriously. We’re currently investigating the matter and are therefore unable to provide a full comment at this stage. We comply with South African Pharmacy Council regulations and have various processes and procedures in place within our pharmacies, including a triple check process to ensure that expired medication is not dispensed to the public.” – Health-e News