You’re holding a bottle of prescription medicine or cough syrup or ibuprofen, notification that it expired last month (or year) and you wonder … how bad can it be if i take this? and also if you’re really not feeling well, that prospect seems a lot more attractive 보다 driving out to a pharmacy for a fresh bottle.

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Don’t be tempted, the U.S. Food and also Drug management (FDA) advises. Over time, medications can readjust in chemistry composition and also become contaminated through bacteria or mold.


“Past the expiration date, there is no guarantee the medicine in still safe and also effective,” claimed Alex Luli, PharmD, pharmacist and sciences assistant clinical professor in ~ Skaggs institution of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical scientific researches at UC san Diego. “What’s more, product labeling is constantly gift updated, so there might be brand-new dosing recommendations or important new warnings that weren’t ~ above the old packaging.”

That’s particularly important for drugs that law life-threatening or chronic conditions, such together blood thinners, insulin or nitroglycerin.

“These need to be 100 percent effective, for this reason the potential after-effects of acquisition a gamble through an expired medicine are simply too great,” Luli said.

Old antibiotics should additionally be discarded, that said. While no necessarily life-threatening in the short-term, making use of a partial dose or partially-effective antibiotics can contribute to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

But what around expired over-the-counter cough and also cold medicines? Luli said he gets asked around those most often.

“In some cases, it may be okay. I commonly tell people that expired cough drugs are most likely safe, but might not work-related as well.” Luli said. “So shot it, and also if doesn’t relieve symptoms, acquire a new one. Likewise, if it’s aspirin you require for a headache and it’s two months past expiration, it’s most likely fine, yet may not work as intended.”

What you deserve to do

To help your medicines last as lengthy as possible, Luli recommends storing them in a cool, dry, dark place.

“Heat, light and also moisture can all degrade medications,” he said. “So the most usual places world store their medicines — the bathroom and the kitchen — no ideal because of humidity and also heat exposure. A room closet would certainly be the best, as lengthy as the drugs are the end of reach of kids and pets, of course.”

Luli likewise recommends regularly clearing out your cupboards, safely disposing of expired medications to mitigate the temptation later. Leftover opioid drugs sitting roughly the home are particularly worrisome, together they deserve to inspire misuse and theft. To deter opioid-seekers, specialists advise mixing unneeded pills with kitty litter, coffee grounds or bleach to do them unappetizing prior to discarding them. You can call your sheriff’s room to learn around “prescription take it back” program in your area. At UC san Diego, patients deserve to discard personal, unused prescription opioids with MedSafe, a secure collection bin located in the Pain management Clinic in the Koman family Outpatient Pavilion in ~ UC san Diego in La Jolla.

Luli motivates patients to talk to their pharmacologists or other treatment providers if castle have any kind of questions about their medications.

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“We can help you work-related through the issue, and also personalize a setup for you,” Luli said.