Does Xanax Expire?

You may have medications around the house that you needed at one time but didn't use up, so you stored them away. Now you're digging through your medicine cabinet for one of those medications; however, when you find it, you discover that it has expired. Does this mean that you need to throw it out? If it is safe to take the medication, and will it still have any potency?

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), starting in 1979, the agency began to require expiration dates on all forms of medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter. The agency established this requirement to ensure that people were better informed about whether the product was safe and if it could still provide the intended benefit. The experts at the FDA maintain that the potential change in the chemical makeup of expired medications could make the product too risky to ingest.

So, does that mean that it is unsafe to take all expired medications, or are there certain medications that are considered safe and effective beyond their expiration? And for how long?

Is it safe to take Xanax after it expires?

According to the experts at Medical News Today, Xanax, like all other medications, requires an expiration date. Once Xanax expires, it may no longer have the same potency and be potentially dangerous to consume. 

That said, the experts at The Recovery Village note that Xanax may maintain a shelf life that exceeds the expiration date. They define shelf life as "the period of time that begins from the date a drug like Xanax is manufactured, to the time it's expected to remain safe and effective as it's approved for use." The shelf life for Xanax can generally last up to three years. When determining shelf life, manufacturers look at active ingredients, the potential for bacteria as the product ages, and other key factors.

Prior to the expiration date, the manufacturer is guaranteeing the product will work, whereas there are no guarantees for potency or safety during the shelf life that extends beyond the expiration date. In addition, keeping unused Xanax and other potent medications beyond the expiration date could be extra dangerous if there are young people in the house, as they could accidentally ingest it.

Bottom line: If you have expired Xanax, you should first consult your doctor before ingesting it or follow FDA guidelines for the safe disposal of your unwanted pills to make sure that others do not gain access to these potent drugs (via Medical News Today).