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Q: Expired Med. Is it still good? ( Answered,   5 Comments )
Subject: Expired Med. Is it still good?
Category: Health > Medicine
Asked by: sunnycal-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 19 Dec 2005 16:46 PST
Expires: 18 Jan 2006 16:46 PST
Question ID: 607700
Does hydroc/apap expire? Generic for vicodin es. I have some that says
to dicard after 6/2002. My daughter had foot surgery friday and is
taking the same med. Can she use this to save money. Is it still good?
Subject: Re: Expired Med. Is it still good?
Answered By: cynthia-ga on 20 Dec 2005 23:59 PST
Hi sunnycal,

I found the answer in Healing Hands --a publication of Health Care for
the Homeless Clinician?s Network, National Health Care for the
Homeless Council in Nashville, Tennessee. The link below gives many
suggestions as to how to obtain prescription drugs at a discount, as
well as addressing the issue of expired drugs.

They have a list of drugs that definitely should not be taken when
expired, and describe how to tell if other drugs have deteriorated
past the point of being safe or effective.

This publication is made for clinics to use as a guide with indigent
folks, and since I can understand your daughter wanting to take the
pain meds, after all, they're working, and they're free. I have done
this many times myself.

So, in the spirit of giving you the information you need to help her
do this safely, I give you this:

I want you to know that there is a case for disposing of medication at
the expiration date. The

Scroll down to pages 3 and 4:

"Using Expired Medications: A Murky issue"

and: "Free and Reduced-Price Drugs"

at this link:

Here's another site, HealthLink, that says pretty much the same thing
but in a lot less detail:
..."Question 1: After an expiration date on a medication, how long can
you actually keep it? What if it's unopened?

Dr. Mitchell answers:
Generally, expiration dates have been set by pharmaceutical companies,
based on their internal tests of the longest period of time that a
medication is known to be effective. Based on other studies,
medications probably continue to be effective at least one to two
years after the expiration date, and maybe as long as 10 to 15 years
later. Medications do retain their effectiveness longer if they are
kept unopened or unexposed to humid air.

The only report of harm coming from the ingestion of an expired
medication was with tetracycline many years ago. So, it's probably
safe to take an expired medication, but not if it's a prescription
medication that has expired..."

Maybe it's not the wisest choice, but a quick call to any pharmcist
will let you know for sure if her specific drug is ok after the
expiration date. I can't give an opinion either way.

If I can be of further assistance, please ask for a clarification!


Search terms used at Google:
"expired medication" safety

Clarification of Answer by cynthia-ga on 21 Dec 2005 00:01 PST
Excuse the typo, I misplaced the text...!  

[ I want you to know that there is a case for disposing of medication at
the expiration date. The ]  --was meant to be above a paragraph.
Subject: Re: Expired Med. Is it still good?
From: pinkfreud-ga on 19 Dec 2005 16:57 PST
I would not take prescription medicine that is three and a half years
past its expiration date. Generic hydrocodone APAP is not very
expensive. Better safe than sorry.
Subject: Re: Expired Med. Is it still good?
From: markvmd-ga on 19 Dec 2005 17:24 PST
I second Pinkfreud's comment. While medicine does not magically go bad
on the day of expiration, three years is too long for a set of such
complex medications to be expired. Without going into details, some
medication may not merely become less effective as it deteriorates; it
may become dangerous.
Subject: Re: Expired Med. Is it still good?
From: bcguide-ga on 20 Dec 2005 21:46 PST
The reason that expiration dates are put on medications is the same
reason that milk and other food goods are labeled with a 'sell by'
date. Would you even think about giving your daughter milk from a
container that was labeled with a 6/2002 expiration date?

As medicines age, the chemical compounds can alter making them
ineffective, or as markvmd-ga pointed out, they can change to harmful

I'd toss the bottle and get the new prescription filled rather than take a chance.

Hope she heals quickly and you all have a happy holiday!
Subject: Re: Expired Med. Is it still good?
From: myoarin-ga on 21 Dec 2005 04:46 PST
A somewhat different view:  A German doctor pointed out to me that the
"expiry date" on medicines that can be kept without special controls
(such as required refrigeration) is based on the minimal period of
effectiveness in less than average conditions, e.g., hot and humid
climates, exposure to light; that if medicines are kept in better
conditions, they are usable past the expiry date  -  NOT ALL
MEDICINES, of course.
And let's face it, the producers are interested in selling; an early
expiry date that can be justified is in their interest.
Subject: Re: Expired Med. Is it still good?
From: ettrick-ga on 01 Jan 2006 10:36 PST
Most medicines in tablets and capsule form are very stable if kept dry
and not exposed to high temperatures. For example aspirin or
acetaminophen tablets kept under such conditions would still be OK
after 100 years but glyceryl trinitrate tablets degenerate after the
bottle is opened after several months. Hydrocodone would be OK after
100 years also, it is a very stable compound if kept dry. 
Manufacturers must put expiry dates to protect the consumer in case of
inadequate storage. Expensive drugs when expired are reanalysed and
then repackaged if OK with a new expiry date. The comment regarding
milk is invalid as it is a non-sterile mixture of nutrients and cannot
be compared to most drugs. The German doctor comment is the only one
with real scientific basis but unless one knows what is what playing
around with expired medicines in ignorance could be dangerous as the
comment regarding tetracyclines details.

I am a consultant pharmacologist.

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