Harvard Women's Health Watch

Can I take an expired medication?

Ask the doctor

Q. I took an ibuprofen for a slight headache last night, and this morning I noticed that the bottle had a 2014 expiration date. Do I need to throw it out and get a fresh bottle?

A. Since 1979, drug manufacturers have been required to stamp an expiration date on their products. This is the date until which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug, and it is fairly arbitrary. It doesn't mean that the drug ceases to be effective on that date.

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