From what I've heard, most pharmacies put an expiration date of about a year on certain pain medications such as Percocet, although I'm sure this estimate can vary.
There's other posts online about individuals taking expired Percocet and claiming that it's just not nearly as potent as it was before, but they confirmed that it did not harm them as far as they could tell. You may have to be your own best judge if you are taking expired medication.
I do agree that certain drugs are actually okay to take after expiration, whereas others such as antibiotics can become toxic; but nothing lasts forever without expressing signs of degeneration. The only real way to know how long a drug can maintain it's potency after expiration, would be to have it lab tested periodically.
I hope this info helps!
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Skarlet Rose Says:
When I was little, in the autumn of my first grade school year, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, and she died the following summer after an extended (but ultimately unsuccessful) round of aggressive chemotherapy. This was in 1990, and on of the things she was prescribed to deal with the pain of the cancer and chemo was Percocet. I know this because nearly 15 years later I came across a large bottle of them (at my parents' house, where she lived her final days) written out for my grandma and dated for 1990.
In my early twenties I started experiencing painful cramping with my monthly cycle the was more excruciating than anything I'd ever experienced (I say that as a life-long migraine sufferer), frequently leaving my physically unable to do anything but continuously writhe in pain on the ground. At one point it was so severe a friend had to carry me into the E.R. as I couldn't walk, could barely speak, and we both imagined the worst (like appendicitis). For a long time I suspected endometriosis to be the only thing capable of causing pain so rediculously severe with my cycle (but a diagnosis was not forth-coming, and the crazy-bad pain occured less and less frequently until it just stopped ever being that bad).
Anyway, it was shortly after that E.R. trip and several previous cycles nearly-as-bad that I came across those very expired percocets, but I took it home with me to keep on hand the next time I found myself writhing like an eel/crawling across the floor/involuntarily s***ting in the tub from pain, because nothing I could get over the counter could come even laughably close to touching that kind of pain (and because Dr.s are not in the habbit of taking seriously little girls who complain about their period symptoms). The percocets actually, miraculously, made a significant noticible difference in my pain level when I took them, and so I kept the bottle in my medicine cabinet very specifically for those occasions.
Since those occasions, over time, became increasingly infrequent, and not knowing when the next one would hit, I strictly rationed the bottle out to myself over the next 4.5 years, eventually running out (with little dismay) at a point when the pills themselves would have been nearly 20 years *expired* (to say nothing of how old they were). They always worked as expected. I they were always quite effective for my extreme pain. They always made me kinda itchy all over, and my guess would be they would have had that same effect when they were yet-to-expire.
So at least from my anecdotal account, as long as they've been kept roughly at room-temperature in a cool, dry, preferrably-dark place, your Percocets should be essentially safe and resonably potent for as much as 18-20 years post-expiration.
Hope this helps. -emily
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Skarlet Rose Says:
Post Script: ...I should add that the pills were in tablet-form (I've read that these last longer that capsules due to degeneration of the organic compounds (I think cellulose) in the capsule that contains the active ingredient. I don't know if this degeneration allows the contained medication to degrade faster, or if it just means that the capsule itself degrades and becomes more prone to breaking open, etc.. I would assume complex delivery systems such as XR-capsules would, with degradation, become less reliable in their delivery of the drug into the bloodstream, potential delivering the active ingredient either too quickly (perhaps dangerous), or incompletely (perhaps pointless). But dry, mould-pressed tablets should be expected to last the longest (under good conditions); they are pretty inert, prior to entering the body, and don't chemically interact much with the environment until moisture is introduce into the equation... ...And that is what kind of pill the expired Percocets I took were, tablets. So, that's all I can really speak to.
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Because I ran out of my currently prescribed percocet and neglected to get a refill, I was caught without pills during a recent migraine. I took an old pill from 1996 (it is currently 2013). No problem. It worked fine!
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I have a bottle of Percocet says discard after 3/14. Date received 9/09. Is it ok to take?
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Hi Scarlet Rose, I just got some percs from a friend. She said she didn't know how old they were, she guessed around 2 years. So I just wanted to say your post was very helpful because I was a little nervous about taking them. One thing tho, I always heard it wasn't good to keep meds in medicine cabinet. I guess because the steam from shower creates moisture. Not sure of this tho. Just a heads up from what I heard.
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I have personally taken Rx's past their expiration date, in fact considerably beyond that "use by" date. However folks ingesting narcotic opiates 20 years plus post manufacturing date traditionally suffer from additional undisclosed issues. As such these unfortunate folks pay no mind to actual safety protocols when it comes to meds. SOME, FOR VERY VALID REASONS but I believe it's a bit hypocritical to rail on the profession that has prescribed these meds for a loved one that they now have procured for their own use, it just seems a bit ingenious. Physicians who in their medical estimation would do more harm than good by treating repetitive unsubstantiated illnesses without the benefit of diagnostics validating such conditions would in fact be violating their oath To FIRST DO NO HARM by prescribing some of the most powerful narcotics opiates on the planet.
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Pharmacies put a rather short expiration date on pretty much all meds, about a year. While some (antibiotics) may turn toxic after 1 to 2 years, a Percocet or Oxycodone will still work after even several years, maybe not quite as strong. If you take a 2-3 year old Percocet the effect may be only about 50% give or take. The 1 year expiration on any meds is law, regardless whether that time span is true or not. The FDA and DEA want to avoid that people take narcotics that were prescribed long ago. They want you to see a doctor and get a new Rx, not medicate yourself. The more dangerous part is actually the acetaminophen aka Tylenol, taking more than 4000 mg (8 x 500 mg) per day over more than 2 days can lead to liver failure. If you have a pharmacist you can really trust, s/he will tell you that it is safe to take an expired Percocet or Oxycodone.
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M1sta AC Says:
Expiration dates are sadly more about the drug companies making money and getting their desired turn over than an indication of a given drugs potency. I believe you should never take a drug that has not been prescribed to you for a variety of moral and health issues but there are many drugs (excluding anitbiotics and water purification drugs and the like) that work as intended years beyond the expiration date. Harvard and the FDA have both done large scale research projects that you can read about here:
Source: "Drugs Frequently Potent Past Expiration", Mercola.com. Web. April 02, 2000