There are no specific reports linking expired medication use to human toxicity.
Should patients use expired medications or not?
If a medication is needed, and the patient is not able to replace the expired medication, there is no evidence that it is unsafe to take the medication in most cases.
However, if a medication is essential for a chronic and potentially life-threatening disease, for example, a heart condition, seizure, or life-threatening allergy, it is probably wise to get a new prescription once expired.
If an expired medication is for a minor health problem, for example, for a headache, hayfever, or mild pain, it may also be safe to take it, although drug potency might not be 100 percent. Research has shown many military stockpile medications retained 90 percent of their potency in their original stock bottle.3 However, storage conditions of these medications were optimized for temperature and humidity, and probably do not mimic the typical storage conditions of the average household prescription bottle.
If an expired medication is taken, and the patient notices the drug has limited or no therapeutic effect, the medication should be replaced. If the medication is a biologic product, insulin, EpiPen, refrigerated liquid, eye drop, injectable, or looks like it is degraded or cloudy, it should be discarded and replaced. If questions still remain about how to handle an expired medication, it is wise to speak with your pharmacist or physician, who can offer additional information and advice.