Drug Expiration Dates

Put simply, the expiration date means that the manufacturer has proven that the product will still work at that time. It absolutely does not mean that it will necessarily stop working a day, a month, a year, or five years after that date - Brian Palmer

Drug Expiration Dates
Drug Expiration Dates

image by: Oregon Health Authority

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When Are Expired Drugs Truly Expired?

I don’t know about your medicine cabinet, but mine is a jumble of mostly expired drugs: the muscle relaxants I got when I threw out my back a few years ago; the anti-nausea medicine I never took during my stomach woes last summer; the Xanax to occasionally help me cope with the dizzying state of the world. I’ve often wondered what I should do with these expired medicines — whether and how I should get rid of them, if they’re unsafe to use or whether some might still work perfectly well.

An expiration date “represents a promise that the medication is good at least that long, if properly stored,” explained Dan Sheridan, a medication safety pharmacist at OhioHealth Marion General Hospital.…

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 Is It Dangerous to Take Expired Medicine?

"As a general rule, there is no danger from taking a medication past its expiration date," says Robert Glatter, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwell Health and attending emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital. "The only conceivable risk is that the medication may not retain its original potency, but there is no danger related to toxicity of the medication itself or issues related to its breakdown or by-products," he explains. While different drugs will vary in expiration dates, the majority of OTC meds will expire within two to three years, he says.

 When Are Expired Drugs Truly Expired?

Plenty of us have medications that are past their expiration date. But are they still OK to use?


National Drug Code Law and Expiration Dating are two laws created by the Food and Drug Administration to help regulate the use, production, and management of medications in the United States. All commercially distributed medications within the United States must have a National Drug Code and expiration date.

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