When does Doxycycline expire? (+3 cons of expired Doxycycline)

When does Doxycycline expire? 

Doxycycline usually expires after 3-4 years of its manufacturing date. However, the shelf life of Doxycycline depends on how it was dispensed. If your pharmacist filled it up in a prescription bottle, it is considered good for a year. 

This is because filling a prescription requires your pharmacist to change the original packaging of the drug, which is provided by the manufacturers. 

If you have Doxycycline in its original packaging, it can stay good for up to 3-4 years. However, this antibiotic should not be used without a prescription. 

What are the dangers associated with the use of expired Doxycycline? 

Although expired medications are not considered harmful, Doxycycline is one of the few medications that can actually become toxic. It is an antibiotic and such meds should not be used once they are past the expiration dates (1). 

Studies suggest that Doxycycline not only loses its potency over time, but the formulation also changes its chemical composition with time as a result of drug-excipient interaction and chemical degradation of the active pharmaceutical ingredient. This is why the FDA advises against extending the expiry date of the medication. (2,3). 

This indicates that Doxycycline slowly starts to become toxic and it can affect your health. A few possibilities include: 

  • A severe allergic reaction associated with symptoms like redness of the skin, itching, burning sensation, painful blisters, blue-purple patches, tightness of chest, wheezing, difficulty in breathing, hoarseness, etc. Swelling of lips, eyes, tongue, and throat can also occur. 

  • Mild to severe damage to the kidneys, depending on the amount of expired Doxycycline taken. 

  • Liver damage, which also depends on the quantity of the drug. Doxycycline, in general, is considered hepatotoxic (4).

  • Worsening of infections, as the original chemical properties of the drug begin to change. 

What to do if you have taken expired Doxycycline? 

If you have taken an expired Doxycycline dose and you begin to feel unusual or see any sign of an allergic reaction in your body, immediately reach out to your healthcare provider. 

You may need something to control the ongoing allergy in your body and it’s not recommended to just wait for it to subside on its own. If you don’t feel anything after taking expired Doxycycline, you don’t have to worry. 

However, you need to make sure that you don’t take another dose of the expired med as taking more of it can cause kidney damage. Always check the expiry date on the packaging of the drug before you consume it. 

Expired antibiotics in general do not turn toxic, including antibiotics like Penicillin, Amoxicillin, etc. However, some of these medications do become toxic after expiration and Doxycycline is one of them. So, the use of expired antibiotics should never be encouraged.

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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; 2021 [cited 2022 Oct 21]. Available from: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/special-features/dont-be-tempted-use-expired-medicines.


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: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-legal-regulatory-and-policy-framework/expiration-date-extensions-certain-lots-doxycycline-hyclate-capsules


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Finalizes Guidance on Extending Stockpiled Doxycycline Expiration Dates [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2022 Oct 21]. Available from: https://www.raps.org/News-and-Articles/News-Articles/2019/4/FDA-Finalizes-Guidance-on-Extending-Stockpiled-Dox


LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; 2012–. Doxycycline. 2019 Jan 23. PMID: 31643675. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548353