Are Expired Drugs Still Safe And Effective? | VH Pharmacy Miami


Are Expired Drugs Still Safe And Effective?

Are Expired Drugs Still Safe & Effective?

With a pounding headache you reach into your medicine cabinet for some aspirin and realize the expiration date on the bottle passed … quite a while ago. Do you take it?  Will it be a fatal mistake or will you simply continue to suffer?

One of the questions I get asked the most by patients is: “Should they take expired medication or throw it out?” This information is very important for two reasons:  A.) There are some medications that should not be used past their expiration dates and  B.) Medications can be expensive and habitually replacing expired but unused drugs can get costly.

What does the expiration date mean?  

Let me first start by explaining what the expiration date means. Since 1979, drug manufacturers have been stamping an expiration date on their products. The date does not necessarily indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or unsafe to use. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug. In an effort to ensure you get everything you paid for, drug manufacturers are purposefully conservative about expiration dates.

Are expired medications still potent?

Although a drug’s potency begins to diminish from the moment it is manufactured, they do not spontaneously lose their effectiveness on their expiration date. In fact, research suggests that stored under optimal conditions, many tablets and capsules retain as much as 90% of their potency years after the labeled expiration date. Liquid medications like antibiotics for oral use, though, are not as resilient.

Are expired drugs safe to consume?

You’ll be relieved to know there are no reports linking expired drugs to human toxicity. There are certain drugs, however, that should never be taken past their expiration dates. For example, Epipen auto-injectors, used for severe allergic reactions, should not be used past their expiration date as epinephrine has been shown to lose potency. Insulin, used to control blood sugar in diabetics, may be compromised past its expiration date. Medications that contain preservatives, such as eye drops, may also be unsafe since outdated preservatives may allow for bacterial growth. Lastly, if a medication is powdery or crumbling, has a strong smell, or has dried up (in the case of or ointments or creams), discard it.

So what’s the bottom line … If you’re taking medication for a life-threatening situations, like a heart condition, seizures or severe allergies, you should not take expired medication — it is important that your drug is absolutely 100% effective. If the matter is a minor health issue, like a headache, sore muscles or a cold, you should be fine. And if you have questions about the safety or effectiveness of any drug, come talk to me.


ABOUT VH PHARMACY:  VH Pharmacy is a family-owned and operated neighborhood pharmacy.  In business for more than 40 years, VH Pharmacy has been under the leadership of Pharmacist Eddy Blanco for the past 11 years.  With his extensive knowledge of pharmaceutical compounding, Eddy Blanco has transformed VH Pharmacy into a technologically cutting-edge facility.  To learn more about our services, please visit our website at or call us today at 305.324.8777.


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