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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires the drug prescription expiration dates to be printed on the outside of the packaged drug. It is a general misconception that an expired prescription drug is no longer good to use. Below are a few frequently asked questions about drug prescription expiration dates:
Is It Safe to Take Medicine Post-Drug Prescription Expiration Dates?
Most over-the-counter medicines are not harmful if taken after the drug prescription expiration dates, and many retain their effectiveness well after the suggested shelf life. The expiration dates are not an indicator that the medicine is no longer good to use, but rather a conservative statement which indicates the shelf life or potency of the prescription drug. This date is the manufacturer's assertion that the product provides guaranteed full potency up to the date listed. *Few over-the-counter medicines, like insulin and some liquid antibiotics, degrade faster, and should be taken prior to the drug prescription expiration dates.
Is It True That a Prescription Drug Loses Effectiveness Over Time?
Over time the effectiveness of a drug prescription may decrease, however the potency can last well up to 10 to 12 years after the date of expiration (with the exception of liquid antibiotics, insulin and nitroglycerin). How do I prolong the shelf life of my prescription drug? A prescription drug will retain much of its original potency when stored in a cool, dry place, away from heat and sunlight.
Where Is the Best Place to Store My Drug Prescription?
For optimal condition, avoid storing your drug prescription in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Often the humidity and heat can cause the drug to deteriorate. Store your medicine in a cool, dry place, and avoid any contact to light or heat by placing your drug prescription in a place such as a closet or kitchen cabinet. To ensure quality, make sure the medicine package is sealed tightly.
When Should I Not Consume an Expired Prescription Drug?
Discontinue and discard your medicine in the case that your pills become powdery, discolored or a potent smell is noticed. If your prescription drug is liquid, discontinue and discard if cloudy or filmy in appearance. Never mix drug prescriptions in the same container. Often chemicals react with one another and could potentially interfere with the quality and potency of your prescription drug. In some cases, medicines that have been mixed together can pose side effects that are harmful to the body. Discard medicines that have been mixed together regardless of the drug prescripiton expiration dates.
The FDA asserts that expired medications are safe to take. However, if your condition requires absolute effectiveness, it is recommended that you purchase a new prescription drug. If you are concerned about the drug prescription expiration dates, and the effectiveness of the drug in question, do not hesitate to contact your pharmacist.