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Q.

Is it safe to still use over-the-counter medications with an expiration date that has passed?

 

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A.

Expired over-the-counter drugs are usually safe, but they might not be effective. The expiration date on the bottle is the last date the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of the drug. Research has showed that expired over-the-counter drugs are not harmful and they may have much of their original strength for up to a decade. However, to be certain that your drug is 100% effective, you should buy a new bottle. If you have concerns, ask a pharmacist or your doctor.

Note that expired prescription drugs are NOT always safe to use. Consult your doctor or pharmacist about whether old prescription medications should be discarded.

You should also ask about the best way to dispose of old medications. Some medications, such as many opioids, must be flushed down the toilet or drain. But others should not be flushed.

In recent years, discarded medications have been showing up in the water supply. To avoid this, mix the medication with coffee grounds or kitty litter and water, then wrap them in plastic and throw them into the trash.

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