Past Expiry Dates: Why You Shouldn’t Keep Expired Medicine

Expired Medicine

Popular media has played a part in the general public’s confusion and belief that there is no harm in using expired medications and that they might even be effective. However, this belief is wrong and potentially risky. Such sensitive substances need only in their best quality, which is before their expiration dates. 

Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t take the risk of using expired medicine:

The FDA Discourages its Use

There is a reason all over-the-counter and prescription medication must list their expiration dates on their label. The expiration date is critical in knowing whether it is still safe to consume. The actual shelf life of medication is complex, and some medicines are more stable than others. 

Medicine can degrade over time, and its chemical composition and potency will change, which is why it’s so risky to use expired medications. If we were to use expired products in our time of sickness or grave injury, there is not a whole lot that it can do to help us. In fact, it may even worsen the situation. 

Storage Matters

Another thing to consider with medicine is storage. Proper storage is required to keep your medication safe and effective until its expiration date. However, with complete honesty, we’re all probably guilty of keeping all our medicines, old and new, in one giant container, turning our hunt for medicine into a game of Russian roulette. 

Make it a habit to read the label, because as complex as the expiration date is, how you store it is also vital. Some medicines need to be refrigerated, and others cannot be exposed to high temperatures. It is also ideal that your medicine isn’t near or surrounded by a damp environment.

It Simply Isn’t Worth the Risk

Admittedly, we understand why so many people end up with a stockpile of expired medicine in their homes. At best, you’re risking using ineffective medications, and at worst, it can harm your health.

Keeping these items in your home will just increase the likelihood of a child or member of your family using them. If you’re wondering how best to dispose of these, again, look at the label for help.


Ideally, with all the information they include on your medicines’ labels, it should also include a recommended time frame that you could still use past the expiration date. But the testing for that is expensive, and pharmaceutical companies have neither the time nor incentive to do it. That said, you should take the time to look through your medicine cabinet or drawer to check if any of the items inside are past the expiration date. 

While not all expired medicine will be harmful, there are simply too many unknown variables to consider. You could be looking at little to no effects or a severe response to using that medicine. So as a general rule, it’s best to leave the consumption of expired medication to fictional characters in post-apocalyptic films. 

If you are looking to replenish your medicine supply, we are happy to help you! Summerside Pharmasave is a pharmacy in Edmonton, Alberta that provides excellent customer service, medication advice, and patient-centred healthcare. Don’t hesitate to drop by and talk to one of our pharmacists today!