HealthWatch: Expired Meds Usually OK

Pills(CNN) – Using an expired drug is probably ok if you have a minor health issue such as a headache or sinus trouble.

Many medicines, especially tablets and capsules, have a shelf life well beyond the date on the bottle, experts say.

Dr. Sharon Bergquist from the Emory School of Medicine says “The reality is that because these expiration dates are so conservative probably even 5 – 10 years from the time of the expiration date a person can try still using their product.”

Manufactures guarantee their drugs will be safe and fully effective up until the expiration date, which is usually 1 to 5 years after it’s produced.

Bergquist  says “But even with medications that are long expired the amount of effectiveness is usually over 90%.”

There are certain medicines, however, that should not be used beyond the expiration date, often because they treat chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes where 100% potency is crucial.

Bergquist says “Nitroglicerin which quickly loses its effectiveness after you open the bottle, insulin, vaccines, suspension type antibiotics that you have to refrigerate, eye drops that are kept in a preservative bottle.”

To help your meds stand the test of time, store them in a cool dry place away from sunlight and in their original containers.