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List: Posted: 02/25/11
Have you ever had a headache and rushed into the bathroom to find ibuprofen only to find that your bottle had expired? So what did you do? Did you take the pills anyway or throw the bottle away? Medicine is required by FDA law to have expiration dates, but do they mean that your drugs are no longer safe to use if the expiry date has long passed?
With the exception of tetracycline, expired drugs are usually still safe to use. The expiration date on your medicine is the last date that the manufacturer guarantees that it will be at full potency. In fact, a study done by the FDA shows that most prescription and over the counter medicine is still perfectly good fifteen years after it expires.
There are certainly types of doctor-prescribed medicine that should absolutely not be taken after expiration, including birth control, antibiotics, heart medications, and insulin. In these instances, full potency of your medicine is essential to your health and you should always have fresh pills to take. Outside of these drugs, however, you will find that expired medicine is not only safe to take, but usually just as effective as it was when you purchased it.
Expiration dates on medicine are usually arbitrary, to satisfy complicated government regulations that has come into place over the past three decades. They are not necessarily a way for drug manufacturers to make more money, but rather a way of guaranteeing you the most potent medications possible if they are used within a set amount of time.
The bottom line is that drug guidelines are in place to ensure that you are getting what you pay for and that you are always kept safe, but taking that expired ibuprofen is certainly better than sitting there with a headache.
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