Research suggests that many medications room still safe and effective years—or sometimes even decades—after the expiration date.

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Here’s news that may save friend money. You can often still usage medication also past the expiration date—sometimes because that years. Follow to numerous reports, consisting of a report in the Journal that Allergy and also Clinical Immunology: In Practice, EpiPens retain most of your potency well past those expiration dates. And also if you think that’s surprising, check out why your pharmacist in reality knows more than her doctor.

What does the expiration date mean?

Since 1979, the FDA has legally compelled drug manufacturers to list an expiration date. That date reflects the latest allude at i m sorry the “manufacturer deserve to still insurance the full potency and also safety the the drug,” according to Harvard clinical School’s Health Publishing. But research conducted by the FDA demonstrates that 90 percent of an ext than 100 drugs—both prescription and over-the-counter—are perfectly great to use also 15 year after the expiration date. In fact, a Medscape report reveals that expiration dates don’t indicate how lengthy a medicine “is actually ‘good’ or safe to use.” together a result, clinical authorities uniformly say it’s for sure to overlook most expiration days for quite a while.

How lengthy past?

A few years, back, researchers uncovered some medicine in a retail pharmacy—still in the initial packaging—that were between 28 and 40 years old. After trial and error the drugs, the researchers published their results in a study letter in 2012 in the Journal that American clinical Association (JAMA): They found that the meds maintained 90 percent of your potency, with three exceptions—amphetamine (for ADHD and also narcolepsy), aspirin, and phenacetin (a painkiller) fell below 90 percent potency.


The EpiPen research study revealed the injections preserved 90 percent of their original potency up to two-and-a-half years later. That’s still within the variance permitted by the Food and Drug management for all medications (90 percent come 110 percent is the allowed range). While this can mean that in an emergency an expired EpiPen might save a life, you need to still always aim to keep unexpired doses on hand to avoid complications. (EpiPens are used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions.) And, due to the fact that each medication may be slightly different, it’s also worth checking with your doctor around expiration days for medicine treating other life-threatening conditions.


As the JAMA study authors note, expiration dates put on by manufacturers generally have no bearing on even if it is a drug is usable for longer. Prior to you take anything, though, make sure to avoid these medication mistakes that can ruin your health.

The exceptions

The meds friend don’t desire to use past their expiration dates include:

Tetracycline (this antibiotic loses its performance after expiration, though researchers are still researching this)Nitroglycerin (taken together heart medication)InsulinLiquid antibiotics

How to decide whether to take an expired drug

“Given that Americans at this time spend more than $300 billion each year on prescription medications,” the JAMA report states, “extending drug expiration dates can yield enormous health-care expenditure savings.” If the expiration day has passed, girlfriend should think about what the medicine is and also what you’re taking it for. If it’s one of the exceptions—or if your life depends on the drug—pony up because that the unexpired version. Otherwise, it could be okay to use. Come be certain it’s safe and if you have further questions, inspect with a pharmacist—they have tendency to recognize a lot an ext than lock reveal.

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originally Published: in march 30, 2018
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Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a brand-new York-based writer whose work-related has showed up regularly top top Reader"s Digest, The Huffington Post, and also a selection of other publications due to the fact that 2008. She consist of health, fitness, yoga, and also lifestyle, amongst other topics. An author of crime fiction, Lauren"s publication The to trust Game, was short-listed because that the 2017 CLUE award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.