Is It Safe To Take Expired Medications?

Is It Safe To Take Expired Medications?

Expired medication can be used by patients or not. To be on the safe side, only take medications that haven’t expired.

Many patients have similar concerns due to the high expense of medicines and the difficulty of regularly replacing unused, expired medications.

What is the concept of medication expiry date?

The end of the manufacturer’s assurance of potency and safety is marked by the expiration date. Prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), and dietary supplement (herbal) labels all include an expiration date. Prior to marketing prescription drugs in the United States, pharmaceutical companies are obligated to provide expiration dates.

Manufacturers will not offer advice about the stability of pharmaceuticals beyond the original expiry date for legal plus liability reasons. In contrast, for most pharmaceuticals, the producer sets an arbitrary date, typically between one and five years in the future, to assess the drug’s stability. It is no longer possible to guarantee the expiration date of a medication after it has been opened after it was manufactured.

Stability analysis under good manufacturing standards, as approved by the Food & Drug Administration, is used to estimate a drug’s expiration date (FDA). Expiration dates for drug items marketed in the United States typically range from 12-60 months from the date of manufacture. The expiration date on the original packaging can no longer be depended upon once the original container is opened by either the patient or even the health care professional who will deliver the drug. On the other hand, stability tests suggest that the drug’s true shelf life may be significantly longer.

When a prescription bottle is supplied to a patient, it is common for the pharmacy to include “beyond-use” dates on the bottle’s label. These dates, which typically have the words “never use after…” or “throw away after…”, are specified by the Medical board in several states and are displayed on prescription bottles. These dates are usually one year after the date of filling the container.

Are drugs that have expired still safe to take?

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, drugs should never be taken after their expiration date because doing so is dangerous due to many unknown variables. Among other things, the way your medication is kept before you get it, the composition of its ingredients, and the date of manufacture can all impact its strength.

When a case report was published in 1963, it linked degraded tetracycline use to a form of kidney and liver tubular harm known as “Fanconi Syndrome.” However, that formula of tetracycline is no longer marketed in the United States, and many medical authorities question the findings of this case report.

Solid dosage forms such as capsules and tablets tend to be the most stable beyond their expiration date when it comes to dosage forms. When drugs that are available in solution or even as a reconstituted mixture, so need refrigeration (such as Amoxil suspension) are used after their expiration date, they may not have the potency that is required for the condition being treated. Potency loss can be a serious health risk, particularly when an antibiotic is used to treat an infection. Sub-potent drugs may also result in the development of antibiotic resistance.

A precipitant occurs. If the product seems hazy or discolored, it is recommended that pharmaceuticals in solution, particularly injectable drugs, be thrown away.

With the passage of time, the solvents in liquid medications such as eye as well as ear solutions, mouth liquids, or topical treatments may be lost.

When drugs with preservatives, like ophthalmic (eye) drops, reach their expiration date, they may pose a risk of infection.

Using preservatives that are no longer in use may allow bacteria to develop in the solution. 


Is It Safe To Take Expired Medications

Is It Safe To Take Expired Medications?

Which drugs are potentially dangerous once their expiration date has passed?

However, until a drug’s potency is determined, there is no way of knowing whether or not it is safe. Here are some sensible precautions to take:

It is possible that insulin, used to manage blood sugar levels in diabetics, will degrade if used after its expiry date.

The oral medicine nitroglycerin (NTG), used to treat angina (chest discomfort), may quickly lose its efficacy once the pill bottle has been opened.

Vaccines, biologicals, and blood products, among other things, may degrade rapidly once their expiration dates have passed.

Do drugs that have expired lose their effectiveness?

The FDA’s Shelf Life Extension Program, developed for the Defense Department, provides the most compelling evidence that some medications can be used after their expiration dates.

Initial goals of the SLEP program included determining the real life span of stockpiled military drugs for future use and saving money for the government by choosing how long they could be stored.

In the SLEP study, almost 3000 lots representing 122 different medication items were tested and found safe. Potency, pH, liquidity, dissolution, physical appearance, and the presence of contaminants were all measured. The results were then analyzed.

Based on the stability data, the expiration dates of 88 percent of lots were extended above their initial expiration dates by an aggregate of 66 months, according to the statistics. Approximately 12 percent of these lots stayed steady for at least 3 – 4 years after the expiration date, according to the data. There were 2652 lots in total, and only 18 percent were canceled due to failure.

The antibiotics amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, diphenhydramine, and morphine sulfate injection are examples of common drug items that have been studied and shown to be safe. The drug expiry extension periods on these medications spanned from 12 to 184 months, depending on the product (over 15 years). The SLEP program does not cover biologics in any capacity.

Iodide that has been stockpiled within the United States in case of a nuclear disaster has not demonstrated any substantial degradation over several years of storage.

In June 2020, the FDA indicated that the expiration dates for specific stockpiled influenza antivirals, such as Tamiflu 75 mg tablets and Relenza, might be extended provided they were stored under designated circumstances and were used for emergency purposes in specific jurisdictions.

Tamiflu’s expiration date could be prolonged by 15 years, and Relenza’s expiration date could be extended by ten years.

Furthermore, according to research published in The Health Letter in 2015, several drugs were still effective decades after their expiration dates. There have been no published instances of human harm associated with the consumption, injection, or topical use of a current medicine formulation after its expiry date, according to the authors’ findings. 

These findings show that many pharmaceutical goods may have longer shelf life than their expiration dates. Any individual consumer or healthcare professional, on the other hand, may find it challenging to determine which products have a longer shelf life than others.

Whether a drug has an extended shelf life depends on the active substances used, the existence of preservatives, temperature variations, exposure to light, and other factors such as humidity and other storage conditions. Aside from that, all the drug lots examined as part of the SLEP project were maintained in original packaging. When a medication is bundled into a different container, as is frequently done at pharmacies, the shelf life may be reduced due to environmental variables.

What’s the best way to store my medications to last as long as possible?

Medication potency can be increased by storing them properly. Medicines should not be kept in the bathroom or the medicine cabinet because of the heat and humidity. Medications shouldn’t be left in a heated car or glove box, either, or in subzero temperatures, for that matter.

The stability of most oral, solid drugs is best maintained in dark, dry environments free of direct sunlight. Prescription container lids should always be adequately secured, and medicines should never be kept within reach of children or animals. Ask your pharmacist or look at the package insert for storage directions. Refrigeration and freezing should be done according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To conclude

Should people take drugs that have expired, or should they not? It is always preferable to use prescriptions that have not expired; it is simply the most secure option.

In the case of a medication that is required for a chronic as well as a potentially life-threatening disease, such as a heart condition, cancer care, seizure, or life-threatening immune deficiency, obtain a new prescription before the current one expires and ensure that it is renewed on a regular basis after that. The patient should be informed that if an outdated medication is taken and the medication has no effect, the drug should be replaced.

Please inquire with the pharmacist or doctor about expired prescriptions; they will be able to provide you with the most accurate information and recommendations based on your situation. When in question, it’s always advisable to purchase a medication that hasn’t expired yet.

Is It Safe To Take Expired Medications?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Product Enquiry