The Reality About Taking Medications That Are Expired

expired medication

It’s very true that most of us have medicine cabinets that are stocked with all types of medicines its even funny that some of these drugs can last years without anyone in the family using them. Many of us have different reasons for stocking over the counter (OTC) medications in the house. While it’s obvious that one day your stock will expire, but then what is the story behind expired medications. But then many of us, would still want to use these drugs, even if they have expired. So what’s in for you about expired medications?

The famous FDA Ruling

Ever since 1979 the FDA came up with expiration dates on all medicines. The idea was to make sure the public is safe from consuming expired drugs. The business mind behind expirations is that when a product expires, you are forced to get rid of them and buy new products. So more money to the producers. The dates help a lot with litigation. The expiration dates offer medicine companies the protection in case someone takes the drug after the indicated date and something goes tragically wrong.

Tragically wrong? Well, how bad can it get?

So is it poison or potency?

Prescribed medications and OTC have one challenge, when these medications start to age, they no longer have their potency. The same thing that happens to vitamins (don’t buy old vitamin you will just be buying old cellulose). So the story is similar to the meds in your cabinet.

Is there any danger?

Jennifer Adams, a renowned professional pharmacist, commented that low levels of potency have their own risks. Just because an expired medicine is 90% effective, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safe for consumption. And this puts many patients to the temptation of taking an overdose. Because one can never be sure of the correct quantity since no one is willing to prescribe expired medications to anyone. The importance of potency cannot be ignored, especially when refereeing to lifesaving medications. Medications used to prevent heart attacks, decrease blood pressure, to deal with asthma or diabetes are just some of the drugs that their potency needs to be checked always. Such drugs should have maximum efficiency always, since you totally rely on them, if they start failing you then you can die.

So what does the Government have to say?

The government has a duty to protect 300 million citizens, and many have condemned the government for being too strict when it comes to regulations. Since the government has been given that responsibility, then it has to protect everyone, even the citizens who are not smart enough to protect themselves. And of course still give all the freedom and liberties you are legally allowed by the constitution.

Constant sanctions and regulations implemented by the government have managed to protect important resources. That’s why in a way the expiration decree is able to protect people and the businesses.


The FDA conducted the SLEP study of the military in the U.S. Findings from the study showed that many meds that are stored in conditions that are exceptional then they can last even for 5 ½ years way past the date of expiration. The study was done on the OTC medications and the prescriptions. It was also discovered that medications like Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and most allergy meds had a 90% potency when the study was being done. This simply means that many medications have the ability to last way beyond the dates they are supposed to expire. The FDA made use of serious conditions when picking out ideal storage facilities. The facilities were specifically cooled and had the ability to efficiently store the medications for the whole duration of 5 years.

But then the story is not the same for all medications. Some medications are not able to hold up way past the date. Some of these drugs are:

EpiPen: Life/ Death is what you get from this shot. If you can get another option, go for it. But taking a less effective EpiPen or one that is expired then you could be putting yourself or the person taking it into a big health risk.

Aspirin: The usual aspirin and drugs containing aspirin tend to lose their potency quickly. Most are typically ineffective a few days after their expiration.

Amphetamines: Amphetamines and all meds containing amphetamines are also a no go zone after they expire.

Antibiotics: if you take degenerated antibiotics they will counteract and end up helping the bacteria instead of fighting it. Before taking antibiotics, make sure they are not expired.

The Life and the Death Prescriptions: well just as they sound, playing Russian roulette with these types of medications are simply gambling with your life. Meds taken to support your life do not condone any room for errors.

The Bottom Line

  • Expiration dates are determined by the government so as to protect us from making wrong medical decisions, and assist the retailers and manufactures on turnover.
  • Make sure your storage place is dry and cool since many of the meds are good before they expire. If you suspect they are aging, take them to your refrigerator.
  • Can you replace them? If yes, please do.
  • Not all meds have the ability to hold over the given period of time.
  • Your life is too important to be risked taking lifesaving drugs that are expired.


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