January 14, 2010

Drugs Past Their Expiration Date; Are they Safe to use?

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You may have wondered whether or not drugs that have passed their expiration date are still save and effective to use. A recent article in The Medical Letter – Volume 51, December 14 2009 reports that Doctors are often asked by their patients if expired drugs can still be taken safely. The answer is entirely dependent on the circumstances of the drug; including what type of drug it is, how it has been stored over a long period of time, and the relative stability of the drug in its original sealed container.

Is expired medication safe to use?

A column published in Pyschopharmacology Today advises that the expiration on a drug is a requirement of a law passed in 1979 where drug manufacturers are required to post an expiration date on their products. This way, the manufacturer can ensure the date at which he can guarantee the full efficiency and safety of the drug. No information on the safety of taking expired drugs has been published. Toxicity due to indigestion, injection, or topical application of drug formulas after their expiration date has not been reported. However, on one occasion it has been reported that the use of degraded tetracycline caused renal tubular damage in a patient. This form of medicine has since been removed from the market. A study conducted by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requested by the military occurred due to the fact that the military faces tossing out and replacing a large expensive pile of drugs every few years. The study found that 90% of more than 100 different prescription and non-prescription drugs were still safe and effective to use even 15 years after the date of expiration.

Do expiration dates on drugs mean anything?

The Expiration date on the packaging of a drug is based on the stability of the medicine in its original sealed container. The date does not mean that the drug becomes unstable after the indicated date; it means that the drug in its sealed container will still be stable at that point in time. The average expiration date for a drug product in its labeled shelf life is between 1 and 5 years. When the container is opened and used, the expiration date on the container does not apply. The expiration date doesn’t necessarily indicate a time in which the medication is ineffective or unsafe. Medical authorities claim that expired drugs are generally safe to take, with the exception of Tetracycline.

Do drugs still work after their expiry date?

The stability of drug products after their expiration dates have been researched. Information from the Department of Defense/FDA Shelf Life Extension Program has shown that 88% of 3005 lots of 122 drug products stored in their unopened containers remained stable for an average of 66 months after their labeled expiration date. Of these, 18% eventually failed in terms of presence of impurities, pH levels, water content, potency, dissolution or appearance. None failed before one year or expiration, and 312 passed tests for more than 4 years past the expiration date. The original effectiveness of medicine may decrease over time; however a lot of its original potency will still remain after the date of expiration. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, many medications are safe to use due to their long-lasting abilities.

How can I store my medication safely?

Placing a medication in a cool place, such as a refrigerator will help a drug remain potent for many years. However, storing medicine in heat or high humidity can shorten the life of medications. In a published study, certain medicines such as captopril tablets, cefoxitin sodium powder for injection, and theophylline tablets stored under stressful (hot or humid) conditions remained chemically stable after storage for 25 years and remained fully antiviral after boiling and holding at 65 – 85 degrees Celsius for many days. Another study showed that theophylline retained 90% of its potency 30 years after its expiration date.

Can liquid drugs be used after they expire?

Liquid drugs such as solutions and suspensions are generally not as stable as solid forms of medicine. Solution drugs such as injections, which have become cloudy or discolored, should not be used. The EpiPen loses its potency after its expiration date. In a study of 28 EpiPen 0.3 mg and 6 EpiPen 0.15 mg that was conducted 1-90 months after the expiration date on the auto injector labels, the decrease in epinephrine content was proportional to the number of months past its expiration date. Ophthalmic drugs such as Xaltan, the problem might not be with the stability of the drug, but more about the continue ability of the preservative to prevent microbial growth in the solution.

If you have no other alternative to your expired medication and a splitting headache, outdated drugs may work. There are no current reports of toxicity from degrading products available on the market today. If drugs are stored in reasonable conditions in their original unopened containers, they can retain up to 90% of their original potency for 5 years or more past their expiration date. The EpiPen, however, is an important exception.

DoctorSolve Healthcare Solutions Inc., a Canadian Internet-based pharmacy intermediary (license #BC X23), offers low cost, long-term prescription drugs. A professionally registered pharmacist fills all Canadian prescriptions. A certified member of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, DoctorSolve is ranked as one of the best online Canadian pharmacies by PharmacyChecker.com.

For more information on how to order Canada drugs safely and securely call 1-866-732-0305 or visit http://www.doctorsolve.com/ – a trusted and reliable Canadian online pharmacy since 1999.

DoctorSolve Healthcare Solutions Inc., a Canadian Internet-based pharmacy intermediary (license #BC X23), offers low cost, long-term prescription drugs. A professionally registered pharmacist fills all Canadian prescriptions. A certified member of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, DoctorSolve is ranked as one of the best online Canadian pharmacies by PharmacyChecker.com.
For more information on how to order Canada drugs safely and securely call 1-866-732-0305 or visit http://www.doctorsolve.com/ – a trusted and reliable Canadian online pharmacy since 1999.

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25 Comments »

  1. I stumbled across your blog and think it’s fantastic, keep us posted

    Comment by 40Lyden — June 25, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

  2. I have a open bottle of apap 7.5mg-500mg. The bottle is from 2010 are these still safe to use.

    Comment by pam — June 24, 2012 @ 8:11 am

  3. Can I safely use Tylenol Arthritis caplets after the 10/07 expiration date?

    Comment by Laura Mason — July 7, 2012 @ 6:55 am

  4. Thank you for this article.

    I just caught a NASTY bug. The expiration dates on all my OTC meds are from 2-5 years in the past. The pills themselves have been kept in my house, out of sunlight, out of extreme temperature/humidity, etc. Visually, I saw nothing wrong with them – those in bottles looked brand new, as did those in blister packs.

    So, rather than toss them and buy new ones, I took them. I don’t know if they’re still 100% effective, but they do work – I feel better. And, there are definitely no adverse effects from taking these “old” pills.

    This has saved me a few $$$. Thanks again.

    Comment by John — January 3, 2013 @ 10:20 am

  5. Cool website buddy I am gona suggest this to all my list of contacts.

    Comment by Saffan — February 7, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

  6. Thank you I have always discarded my meunopened medications day after expiry, not that it often occurs. i was worried incase the medication becomes toxic after the expiry date on package.

    Comment by Rene knight — February 14, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

  7. Dear Rene Knight,

    If capsules are stored properly, they may be used for years. If not store properly, capsules are prone to breakdown.

    Dr. Zickler

    Comment by Dr. Zickler — February 15, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

  8. can i use sandostatin ampule On the last day of the expiry date

    Comment by mfm — March 26, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  9. It should be fine.

    Comment by DoctorSolve — March 26, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

  10. Can I use Folinext D…??? Exp. Date february 2013…. :/

    Comment by Pro — April 3, 2013 @ 1:26 am

  11. Hello doctor, Can I take Folinext D, which expired in feb 2013?? Thanks.

    Comment by Pro — April 4, 2013 @ 8:48 am

  12. Hello Pro,

    Please check with your doctor but it should be OK if it hasn’t been compromised or tampered with.

    Comment by DoctorSolve — April 4, 2013 @ 9:09 am

  13. Thanks a ton doctor..

    Comment by Pro — April 5, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

  14. I was given pills from my doctor a year ago. Can u take expired pills that are a year old?

    Comment by Kayana — April 14, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

  15. Hi Kayana. Most pills that do not have specific temperature restrictions and are kept unsealed, should be good for a year
    (even when past the expiry date). Which pills were they? You should consult with a doctor regarding the type of pills they are to ensure that they are safe to use.

    Comment by Doctor Solve — April 25, 2013 @ 10:40 am

  16. I have expired Prozac (fluoxetine) pills that expired 8/2012. These have been stored for a period of 7 months In a storage unit. Would these be safe to take? Thank you!

    Comment by Crystal — April 28, 2013 @ 3:57 am

  17. I have biobust pills which expire 05/13.Would it still be fine to take them?

    Comment by Sibby — May 9, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

  18. I have been applying Eurax in Valisone 0.1 per cent cream for a personal skin condition….and was told today that Eurax is no longer available. I have lichen sclerosis. My cream expired May 5, 2013.
    No one will tell me if it is safe to use now. I apply it once a week, and have enough for 3 more months….BUT I am worried that it could cause me harm since it is a steroid and a cream if I use it past the expiration date. ….. Is there any danger?

    Comment by Pam — May 16, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

  19. iwas given amxil 500mg cap its expire date is 10/7/013 can i use after one month.

    Comment by muktar — July 7, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

  20. This was helpful thanks :)

    Comment by nisse — July 8, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

  21. I have an expired “medicol” can i still tale it for headache?

    Comment by Mac — July 13, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

  22. Hi Doc, i have a bottle of Methadone that’s a few years out of date, is it still safe to IV this?

    Comment by Adam — July 23, 2013 @ 1:09 am

  23. I have 1 year expired citalopram 40 mg .can I still take them

    Comment by imran haroon — August 16, 2013 @ 12:33 am

  24. Hi,

    Can I use Oncaspar injection after expiry ?

    Comment by Minhaj — October 22, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

  25. Very heartening to read your articles and replies. Now I would safely use three month old tabs in unopened strip packing. Thanks a lot.

    Comment by Jayabalan — November 25, 2013 @ 6:14 am

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