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Expired medicines: Do's and Donts

How long does medication last after the expiration date?

So, how long does medication last after the expiration date? According to research, your medicine is likely still safe and effective years after its expiration date.

In fact, one study found that 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

However, not all medications are long-lasting. For instance, if you end up taking old antibiotics, they may be less effective and not treat the infection at hand. This could result in antibiotic resistance, which can be extremely dangerous to your health.

Which medications become toxic after expiration?

There are several medications that become toxic after expiration and are not safe to take. For these reasons, it’s important to adhere to the expiration dates on certain medications. These include:

  • liquid oral antibiotics

  • medicated eye drops

  • nitroglycerin

  • insulin

  • tetracycline

While intact tablets are typically safe to use, this isn’t the case for some liquid medications.

Drugs that exist in solution like Syrups, or that require refrigeration, may not be effective enough to treat a condition after expiration. Check with your doctor or a trusted healthcare professional if you have any questions about a specific medication.

And the maintenance of a cold chain [temperature between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius] is vital for Insulin and certain other medicines, and may render the medicine ineffective even though the expiry date is in the future. .


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