Have you ever had a pounding headache and discovered that the only bottle of pain medication in your medicine cabinet has expired? If so, you have faced the dilemma of whether or not to take an expired medication. You may wonder whether, like the expiration dates on foods, the medications have “gone bad” or degraded into harmful substances. Or you may wonder whether the medication is simply less effective after the expiration date. Read on for the scoop on expiration dates, what they mean, and when you should avoid taking expired medications.
13. What the Medication Expiration Date Means
Unlike the expiration date on a carton of milk, the expiration date on your bottle of aspirin is not the date at which the product will spoil. Instead, the expiration dates on bottles of over-the-counter and prescription medications are the dates at which drug manufacturers have determined the drugs are still safe and effective. This means that studies have only been conducted that ensure the drug product will be fully potent and safe for use up until that date. Meanwhile, studies have not been performed past that date.
12. Studies Regarding Medication Expiration Dates
The United States Department of Defense reports that in 1985, the Air Force requested that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) perform drug tests. The Air Force had amassed a stockpile of expired drugs. Rather than costing the taxpayers money by replacing expired medications, the Air Force wanted to determine if those medications were still safe and effective to use. The FDA performed tests and discovered that the medications tested, which the military had stored under optimal conditions, were often safe and potent a decade after the original expiration date.