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Dr Uzair
Dr Uzair, Doctor
Category: Medical
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Experience:  MBBS, FCPS (R) General Surgery. Years of experience in Emergency Medicine.
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I have some antibiotics- Ampicillin and azithromycil expired

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I have some antibiotics- Ampicillin and azithromycil expired in 2007. Are they safe to use as I have a new prescription for strp throat of amoxixillin and wonder if I could take expired ones instead.Thanks

Hi. Welcome to JustAnswer. I shall try my best to assist you while you are corresponding with me.


Expired antibiotics are not safe to use. First of all, most of them loose their efficacy from over 5 to 50 percent after the expiry date has been past.

Secondly, since antibiotics are used to kill bacteria and counter infections, the use of expired antibiotics will not provide full coverage against the infection and they will not be as effective in clearing out an infection.

Another reason is that since the bacteria will not be killed they will develop resistence to the antibiotic and drug resistant infections are not a very good thing to have, since that makes treatment more costly and increases the morbidity several folds.

It is much crucial to be careful when using antibiotics - most other drugs can just loose their effectiveness after expiry date has been past but with antibiotics the scenario is different.

A bonus and a positive feedback will be appreciated.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I appreciate all you said and am aware of the resistance to antibiotics and unwise not to follow directiosn (i.e. expired does mean something , yes)but to be more specific- re antibiotics -I realize how stored and how well manufactured figure in- but the 5-50%

is that forever(meaning 10yrs could be range) if stored well could 5 years be the just 5%?

I am looking at a general range from 1 year to 10 years (starts at 5% a year generally?)

Sorry to be a pest but am asking for 2 reasons: 1. my case now as have these expired antibiotics in med cabinet now-with dosege and rec useage still on them and would yake accordingly)and 2. for a general epidemic emergency (volcano-severe earthquake etc.) where one would have to guess on own and what one has in medicine cabinet assuming no professional help at hand for length of time.Thanks

Thanks for the details.


Well, most drugs can be used way past their expiry dates if stored properly and effectively under the appropriate temperatures.

The expiration date, required by law in the United States, (1979) specifies only the date the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of the drug -- it does not mean how long the drug is actually safe to use.

Second, medical authorities uniformly say it is safe to take drugs past their expiration date -- no matter how "expired" the drugs purportedly are.


Pharmaceutical firms do not take any responsibility of someone who has fallen ill or had adverse effects after using an Expired pill/ tablet/ capsule. Before that any claim can be made - But still in order to check for viability and effectiveness of an expired drug you will have to run some complicated trials on the expired medication - which is obviously neither cost effective nor a very recreational use of one's time.

However, 3 years is a long time. You should get a refill. The risk as I mentioned is more with antibiotics.

In case of an emergency - and if all hell breaks loose then the use of an expired medicine can be of some benefitand justified but not if it is going to kill you or make you more ill rather than save your life or cure the illness.


A bonus and a positive feedback will be appreciated.


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