A medication bottle with details printed on the side detailing its batch number, manufacture date, and expiration date lays on its side surrounded by pills.
Safety and adherence

Understanding Drug Expiration Dates

Anytime you get a prescription or over the counter medication, you’ll see a printed expiration date on the bottle. It’s a must for all drugs regulated by the FDA. So why is it a requirement? 

One reason drugs have expiration dates is to ensure their potency and effectiveness. Medications contain active ingredients that provide the intended therapeutic benefits. Over time, these active compounds may degrade, break down, or interact with other inactive ingredients in the drug, making them less effective. As a result, taking medications past their expiration date might not produce the medical outcomes that are expected.

Another reason is that as medications age, they can undergo chemical changes that may create harmful byproducts. These byproducts might be toxic or cause bad reactions. The expiration date makes sure that medications are used before any potential safety risks arise.

The stability of a medication depends on how it’s stored. Exposure to factors such as light, temperature, and humidity can degrade the medication's integrity. The expiration date prompts users to store drugs appropriately, ensuring that they remain potent and safe for the duration specified. 

The FDA requires pharmaceutical companies to comply with strict quality standards. It mandates that the drug manufacturers determine and provide expiration dates for their products through rigorous stability testing. The expiration date signifies that the drug has undergone thorough evaluations to maintain its quality up to a specific time frame. Once the expiration date has passed, it can no longer promise its safety or stability. 

Always consult healthcare professionals or pharmacists if you have questions about medication expiration or if you need to dispose of expired medications safely. 

See what’s next


Have an idea?

Have a suggestion for an article?

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Want to be in the know?

Sign up for our monthly newsletter!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.