Aside from the cost, one of the biggest concerns many consumers have regarding their prescription medications is whether they are safe to take beyond the stamped expiration date.
According to a recent article in Harvard Medical School’s Health Publishing (December 13, 2019), in 1979, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) required expiration dates be issued on both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug. Yet, the expiration date doesn’t necessarily indicate a specific point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use. However, there are some medicines you absolutely shouldn’t take beyond the manufacturer’s expiration dates. They include:
- Tetracycline (an antibiotic that some researchers/scientists believe does lose its effectiveness after expiration)
- Nitroglycerin (taken as heart medication)
- Liquid antibiotics
Storing your pills properly is one way to ensure that your prescriptions will remain safe and effective up to their expiration date. Some medicine must be stored away from light and in a cool setting. It’s a good idea to always read the label to see if there are specific storage instructions for your prescriptions.
Expired prescription drugs may show physical signs of discoloration and changes thus making the decision not to take them much easier.
When in doubt about any medications, it’s always best to talk with a licensed pharmacist and or doctor. Verify that their state license is active and in good standing through the Department of Consumer Affairs website at https://search.dca.ca.gov.
Also, if you’re looking to clean out your medicine cabinets and get rid of expired prescription medications, don’t just flush them down the drain. Log on to the California State Board of Pharmacy’s website here to find pharmacies that offer on-site collection bins and mail-back services as well as other information on how to safely dispose of all your unused and unwanted prescription drugs.
For more valuable information from the Board of Pharmacy, visit their website at https://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/consumers/information.shtml