Can Expired Medicine Kill? The Dangers of Taking Old Drugs

Last Updated on June 22, 2024 by ClinicNearMe

What happens to your body if you eat expired medication? Can expired medicine kill? It is undeniable that this is harmful. Expired medications may not work as well as they did when they were first prescribed and may even cause dangerous side effects. Due to negligence, ignorance, or uninformedness, people take expired medicines.

There’s no doubt that keeping expired medications around is risky business. According to the FDA, expired drugs can lose their potency and become ineffective – or even dangerous. So if you’re thinking about holding on to those packages with the “use by” dates that have long since come and gone, it’s time to rethink. Let’s explore how expired medicines affect your body in this blog post.

Let’s get started!

Also read: The Best Walk-In Clinic In the World

What Does A Medicine’s Expiration Date Mean?

The shelf-life of a medicine is the amount of time you may use it without degradation. It involves assessing efficacy and safety within a specific time frame. Shelf life is important to consider when choosing a medicine, as it ensures that the drug will still be effective during treatment.

Medicines Expiration Dates: Will Expired Medicine Hurt You?

Taking a medicine after its expiration date has different effects since every drug has a different formula.

1. Antibiotics

If you’re considering using expired antibiotics, think again. While it’s true that the drugs may have lost some of their potency, they’re also likely to be ineffective against the illness you’re trying to treat. Worse yet, taking expired antibiotics can lead to resistance, making it more difficult to treat infections in the future. So if you’re feeling under the weather, be sure to consult with your doctor for the best course of treatment.

2. Hormonal Pills

Generally, you should never use any medication after its expiration date. It is because the potency of the medicine may have decreased, which could lead to ineffective treatment or even dangerous side effects. 

For example, expired insulin can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition in which insufficient insulin causes elevated blood sugar levels. Additionally, expired thyroid medications may not be able to stabilize your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) effectively. Before using any new medicines, dispose of expired medications properly.

3. Drug Addiction

Many people believe expired medications are harmless, but they can be dangerous. Expired drugs can lose potency and may not work as well as they should. In some cases, they can even become toxic.

According to CDC data, there were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2021, nearly 15% more than the 93,655 deaths in 2020.

Can Expired Medicine Kill You?

Even though there’s no recorded case of someone dying from expired medication, it can still happen indirectly. For example, epinephrine is a common drug used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. If it’s administered incorrectly, it can cause death.

Multiple studies have shown that anti-allergy medications that use epinephrine, like EpiPen, can lose most of their efficacy over time. An EpiPen past its expiration date might not be able to deal with an allergy enough to avoid complications or even death.


If you have taken an expired medicine and are now experiencing symptoms like headaches or nausea, don’t panic. In most cases, the drug will be less effective than usual, and your symptoms will go away on their own. However, if you are concerned about your symptoms, please get in touch with your near doctor. They will be able to advise you on what to do next.

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