Definition of Outdated Drug
Outdated Drug is a DRUG that is past the manufacturer’s listed expiration date. An outdated drug may be less effective than the unexpired product or may be harmful.
Drugs deteriorate over time. Some drugs have short effective periods, particularly those that require refrigeration. Other drugs maintain potency for years.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to determine the length of time a drug remains at full potency and to incorporate an expiration date into the drug’s labeling information.
In general, pharmacists recommend not using a drug after one year from the date it was opened or removed from its original packaging (including preparation or repackaging as a prescription).
No matter what a drug’s official expiration date, do not use or take products that are discolored or obviously deteriorated (such as tablets that are crumbling) or when there is damage to the container (such as a crack in a tube or a broken lid).
Factors such as exposure to heat, light, moisture, and air may hasten deterioration, causing a drug to become less effective even before its expiration date. It is important to store drugs in their original or prescription containers and in the appropriate environment. Many people keep medications in a bathroom medicine cabinet, which, though convenient for remembering to take medications at the prescribed times, is a less than ideal environment.
Most bathrooms are small and enclosed and experience extreme variations in heat and humidity as a result of people bathing or showering. Pharmacists recommend storing drugs, prescription and over-the-counter, in a cool, dry, dark location unless the label specifies other storage requirements, such as refrigeration.