Pernicious Anaemia Society
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I'm still here

That title has more than one meaning now that I think about it. First it means I'm still alive. I survived gallbladder removal surgery, which went well and from which I'm still recovering.

It also means I'm still here following this community and still having a few issues with B12.

I feel as if the latest issue is largely my own fault. September was a crazy month for me. I had surgery at the beginning of the month, spent a week recovering, went back to work for a week, then went on a much-anticipated vacation that involved lots of walking, and came back with a bad cold, which slowed down my recovery a little. So I sort of forgot about needing to make an appointment with my naturopath about ordering more B12. The remaining B12 I had was set to expire at the beginning of October.

Has anyone else noticed that injectable B12 expires and becomes totally useless? I don't understand the chemistry behind how that works, but it really sucks.

So October comes along and I realize I no longer have any useful B12. I hurry up and make an appointment with my naturopath, who now only seems to work two days a week. We talk about me needing more B12 but it was too late in the day for her to contact the compounding pharmacy where it is made, so she assures me she'll call me the next day with info. I didn't hear from her.

I emailed her a few days later and we narrowed down the exact product needed. I have no idea if she's ordered it and no clue when I'll hear back from her. In the meantime my symptoms started coming back; first tinnitus, then lack of concentration, crying jags, irritability, burnt mouth feeling, tiredness, even a numb toe (which is beyond my usual symptoms). Add to that still being nauseated from the surgery and I was a mess.

Out of desperation, I ended up driving up to Canada for a few hours and getting some B12 there. The thing that surprised me was the price. One 10ml vial only cost 5 Canadian dollars. By comparison, when I asked my local pharmacy how much a 10ml vial would cost, I was told it would be $70 (US).

I found the price difference so staggering that I've emailed American Regent to ask them why they are charging 14 times more than their closest competitor. I haven't gotten a response back so far. If I ever get one, I'll update.

It's truly amazing to me that it would end up being cheaper for me to drive 200 miles and cross into another country to get it than it would be for me to buy B12 through a standard prescription in the US. :(

8 Replies

Hi, gald you is still with us and that the surgery went OK.

Has anyone else noticed that injectable B12 expires and becomes totally useless? I don't understand the chemistry behind how that works, but it really sucks.

The stuff I buy has an expiry date of three years hence, so I'll guess that it would still be usable after 5 years or more. That's if it's stored sensibly - less than 25ºC and out of the light.

That's for hydroxocobalamin. I know that methylcobalamin is less stable - especially with light. Several of the US makers I looked at recommended storage at 4ºC.


My experience has been with cyano and methyl. A few years ago, I was given a short-dated vial of cyano without knowing it. It usually lasts for a year from that company, but the vial I had was nearly a year old when I got it. I came down with symptoms before I figured out that my B12 had expired. It had to have expired right around the one-year mark that the vial was dated for based on when the symptoms started.

The methyl that I had been using had an expiration date just three months after it was produced, and I had been keeping it in the fridge even though the pharmacy did not specify that it needed to be cold. I actually think that batch might have expired about a week *before* its expiration date.

I noticed that the cyano I bought in Canada has an expiration date two years out. I don't expect that I'll still have it long enough to know if it lasts that long, but it is interesting to me that it has a longer useful timeframe than the other cyano I've used.

I know that I have read somewhere (and completely forgotten where) that injectable medications expire faster than tablet medications. I assume it's a stability issue. I wouldn't trust that the hydroxo that has an expiration date in three years would still be useful in five, but I haven't used hydroxo.

Maybe I'm weirdly sensitive to some change that occurs in the formulation as it ages? Am I really the only person who notices the loss of effectiveness? Or have I just been the only person who has ended up with expired B12?

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Yes, any chemical in solution will undergo chemical reactions much faster than the same chemical in a solid form. Many chemical reactions are helped by acid or base - and water is both! Added ingredients will keep the pH at the desired level, but the reactions will just be slowed, not stopped.

Then there's the fact that a chemical in solution moves around a lot, so anything that might degrade it will be met sooner or later. Many of these degradation reactions will be caused by free radicals. And the products of such a reaction will include at least one more radical, which can go on to react again, producing another radical....

I'm not sure what the products of the degradation of B12 may be that could cause nasty responses. I know that the major product of the degradation of methylcobalamin is caused by replacement of the methyl group with a water molecule to give aquocobalamin, which seems to be pretty harmless.

That reaction would also produce a molecule of hydrogen cyanide or methanol, depending on the type of B12. Both aren't nice, but the amounts are minute. 1000 ug of B12 will produce about 20 ug of HCN or MeOH. That's the same amount of HCN as in 10 ml of prune juice. Don't forget, the same things will be produced in your body when the B12 is converted.

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Oh I don't think I get any noticeable effect at all when I take expired B12. It just does nothing for me and so my symptoms, that it normally keeps at bay, all come roaring back.

I have never really learned much about chemistry. I have just found this interesting looking page about how methyl breaks down, but I haven't had time to follow the links to the articles:

It's just that I never seem to hear about anyone else experiencing the loss of effectiveness when their B12 reaches expiration. I can't be the only one, can I? So far, I feel like the calculations that have been done to figure out the expiration dates for B12 have been spot on in an eerily annoying and inconvenient manner. lol

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Welcome back Galixie

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Thanks! :)

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Good to see you back Galixie and really pleased that you're recovering from the gall bladder surgery 😖.

What an astonishIngly disgraceful price difference. I'd be packing for a road trip every time supplies got low.

Hope you're fully recovered very soon.

Take care x

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Welcome back, Galixie!

Wow, you recovered fast from gall bladder surgery! Well done! :-)

When I had my gall bladder surgery, it took me about 3 weeks to get over it. But that was before I started on the b12 shots...

I, like you am in the US and go to a naturopath and use a compounding pharmacy. I get multi use bottles which is 4-5 shots depending on the amount I use. I have recently started doing 800mcgs each injection. The multi use bottles costs me 22 dollars.

Hope your recovery continues to go well so you can take lots of trips to Canada! :-)

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