We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Can I Take Expired Prescriptions?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Taking expired prescriptions is not usually advisable. They are not likely to harm you, at least if it’s a medication you normally take, but they may not be suited to your needs and may not be completely effective. All medications have an expiration date that guarantees them, if they are stored properly , until that point. The day a prescription expires doesn’t automatically render it ineffective or dangerous, but you can’t tell for certain that expired prescriptions will be the same strength as unexpired ones.

There have been studies on expired medications stored in optimum conditions, by the Food and Drug Administration. Of the over 1000 expired prescriptions studied, only a few degraded very quickly. Insulin and liquid antibiotics tended to have the shortest shelf lives. Most other drugs were still effective for several years beyond their expiration date, and some remained at full strength for five to ten years.

Very few expired medications have been found to cause harm. One form of tetracycline that was expired did cause liver damage to a user, but this form is not in use anymore. Still, there is some inherent danger in using expired prescriptions or even ones that haven’t expired for other than their prescribed purpose. For instance, if you think you have a sinus infection, you should not take antibiotics that were prescribed for something else.

Antibiotic use must be carefully controlled, and even if the antibiotics are at full strength, they are unlike to be as many in number as you would need. This means you could take a few antibiotic pills but only enough to make an infection come back stronger. This is self-prescribing and the medical community does not recommend it.

What about sleep medication, tranquilizers or pain relievers? With pain relievers it might make sense to keep some on hand if you’re prone to frequent injury, especially if you can’t get to a doctor immediately. It probably wouldn’t be harmful to take expired medications or even current ones of pain relievers for a new injury, though if you have any new health conditions or are on any new medications, you should check with your doctor first.

On the other hand, once a prescription is expired, you might not get as much relief from pain as you would if you took a current medication that was newly prescribed. As for sleep medication or tranquilizers, if your doctor has prescribed these on an as needed basis and your prescription just expired, they are not likely to harm you. However if they were prescribed long ago, you may need to check with a doctor before you use them, and to possibly get a new prescription.

When in doubt, don’t take expired prescriptions, especially for a purpose other than what they were intended for. You can check with a doctor or pharmacist to see if it’s okay to take something in an emergency setting. Usually doctors will prefer you to get a new prescription. It should be noted though that governments keep caches of near to expiration prescription drugs, which they would use in cases of national emergency. In an emergency setting, like a sudden asthma attack, if you have an inhaler that’s a few months past it’s expiration date, it is probably better to use it, even if it is not as effective as a newly prescribed inhaler would be.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon998762 — On Aug 20, 2017

I have benicar that are 3 months expired. Are they safe to take?

By Sedley — On Mar 20, 2014

I have some 8 year old Furosemide pills. Can you still take them?

By anon320299 — On Feb 16, 2013

Can I take expired apo-clindamycin even though it's two years old? I get severe bladder infections and need to take it.

By anon36960 — On Jul 15, 2009

Is an expired RX good up to five years?

By ChaplainYB — On May 24, 2009

Do I need a Dr.s oversight for HGH?

By ChaplainYB — On May 24, 2009

may I safely continue using my AndroGel although it is 1 year out of the use-by-date... thanks

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.