Can you take medicine that expires this month?

In this brief article, we will discuss the potential risks of taking expired medications. We will also discuss the importance of drug expiry dates and when you should discard the expired medication. 

Can you take medicine that expires this month?

Yes, you can take medicine that expires this month before the month ends. If the medicine’s exact expiry date states “expires this month,” it means the medication should not be used beyond the last day of the current month.

It’s essential to follow this date strictly and not use the medicine after that specific day. There is a reason why manufacturers clearly print the expiry date on the packaging of their medications and you shouldn’t use the medications past that date according to the Food and Drug Administration (1).

What is the purpose of printing expiry dates on medications? 

The printing of expiry dates on medications serves an important purpose in ensuring the safety and efficacy of the drugs. Manufacturers include expiry dates to indicate the period during which the medication is expected to remain stable and retain its intended potency (2). 

This information is crucial for healthcare providers, pharmacists, and patients to make informed decisions about the use of the medication.

By providing an expiry date, manufacturers can guarantee that the medication is safe and effective up to that specified date when stored appropriately (2). It helps prevent the use of medications that may have deteriorated over time, reducing the risk of potential harm or treatment failure for patients.

While some medications may remain stable and retain their effectiveness beyond the expiry date, there is limited research to support this for every medication (3). 

What are the risks of taking expired medications? 

Taking expired medications can pose several risks to your health. Over time, the effectiveness of the active ingredients in the medication may diminish, making it less potent in treating your condition. 

Using expired medications may not provide the desired therapeutic effects, leading to inadequate symptom relief or treatment failure (1).

Expired medications can also become less stable and may undergo chemical changes. As a result, the composition of the drug may alter, potentially creating new compounds that could be harmful to your body. In some cases, this could lead to unpredictable side effects (1).

Certain medications can turn toxic after they expire. For example, tetracycline antibiotics, like Doxycycline, can degrade into harmful substances, causing kidney damage when taken past their expiry date (4). 

Another example is Nitroglycerin, a medication used to relieve chest pain associated with angina. When Nitroglycerin expires, it can become unstable and lose its effectiveness in relieving angina symptoms, potentially putting the patient at risk of a heart attack (5).

Using expired medications can also lead to unnecessary healthcare costs, as ineffective medications may require additional doctor visits and new prescriptions.

To ensure your safety, always check the expiry date on medication labels and avoid taking any medications that have passed their expiration date.

How to dispose of expired medications properly?

Disposing of expired medications properly is essential to protect the environment and ensure public safety. 

The first step is to check if there are any specific disposal instructions provided on the medication’s label or packaging. Some medications may have specific guidelines due to their potential hazards.

If there are no specific instructions, it is generally recommended not to flush medications down the toilet or pour them down the sink, as they can contaminate water sources (6). 

Instead, the best way to dispose of expired medications is to take them to a drug take-back program or a medication drop-off location (7). Many pharmacies and healthcare facilities offer these services, allowing you to safely dispose of your unused or expired medications (7).

If a take-back program or drop-off location is not available, you can mix the expired medications with an undesirable substance and throw it away in a sealed package. This helps prevent accidental ingestion by children or pets.

By following these proper disposal practices, you can contribute to a safer and healthier environment and reduce the potential risks associated with expired medications ending up in the wrong hands or polluting our water systems.


In this brief article, we have discussed whether it is safe to take the medicine that expired this month. We have also discussed the importance of expiration dates and what potential side effects they might cause. We have also discussed safe approaches to dispose of medications while protecting the environment. 

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Don’t Be Tempted to Use Expired Medicines [Internet]. Silver Spring (MD): U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available from:


Brion G, Bunkers L. Expiration Dating And National Drug Code Rules. 2023 May 1. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 34033382.


Gikonyo D, Gikonyo A, Luvayo D, Ponoth P. Drug expiry debate: the myth and the reality. Afr Health Sci. 2019 Sep;19(3):2737-2739. doi: 10.4314/ahs.v19i3.49. PMID: 32127846; PMCID: PMC7040264.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Expiration date extensions of certain lots of doxycycline hyclate capsules [Internet]. 2023 updated [cited 2022 Oct 21]. Available from:


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Stoddard KI, Hodge V, Maxey G, Tiwari C, Cready C, Huggett DB. Investigating Research Gaps of Pharmaceutical take back Events: An Analysis of take back Program Participants’ Socioeconomic, Demographic, and Geographic Characteristics and the Public Health Benefits of take back Programs. Environ Manage. 2017 Jun;59(6):871-884. doi: 10.1007/s00267-017-0834-3. Epub 2017 Mar 3. PMID: 28258470.