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Susan Peacock RPh
Susan Peacock RPh, Pharmacist
Category: Pharmacy
Satisfied Customers: 46
Experience:  35 years experience in retail and institutional pharmacy practice
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What is the shelf life of Xanax (Alprazolam)

Customer Question

What is the shelf life of Xanax (Alprazolam)?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Pharmacy
Expert:  Susan Peacock RPh replied 6 years ago.

Hello,

When a medication, such as alprazolam, is manufactured, an expiration date is assigned to it. This date is determined primarily by the specific physical and chemical characteristics of the drug. Some chemicals are inherently more stable than others, and so retain full potency for a longer period of time.

Also, the expiration date assumes that the drug will be kept under cool, dry conditions. High humidity, bright lights, and high temperatures can accelerate the degradation of many drugs.

Generally, medications 'expire' after two to four years from the date they are manufactured. A drug's expiration does not usually mean that the medication has become harmful (except in rare cases, for example, the antibiotic tetracycline), but rather that is has become less and less potent, and has reached a potency that is no longer considered effective.

For some medications, this date is more important than for others, for example an expired antibiotic may not be strong enough to overcome the infection, kind of like an army that has lost half of its soldiers.

But for other medications, such as pain killers, antihistamines, and sedatives, a slightly lessened strength can still do some good. Alprazolam falls into this group.

You can ask the pharmacist for the actual expiration date of your medication, and write that date on your prescription bottle, so that you will have that information in the future.

So, you see, the shelf-life of a medication depends on a number of considerations, and each prescription bottle that is in your medicine cabinet has it's own history. It would be nice if a simple number was the answer, but too many factors are involved.

I hope this information has helped you, If you would like more information, just ask. If you are satisfied with the answer, please "Accept" it. Thank you for coming to the JustAnswer website,
Susan

Edited by Susan Peacock RPh on 11/16/2010 at 9:23 PM EST
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