Expired Medication?

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New Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 14
   Posted 11/3/2009 3:08 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Everyone -
I know this is a scenario many of us have come across - One doctor prescribes a course of treatment, and the pills don't seem to work, or we're told to switch medications before finishing up that brand-new refill...leaving us with quite a few leftover pills.
I was first prescribed Entocort in December 2007, and it worked fairly well, initially. After going into a rough flare, however, I was prescribed its ugly cousin, Prednisone. I came out of the flare in February of 2008, and I haven't used Entocort since.
Until I began seeing a new GI specialist after graduating college and moving to Chicago for a new job. (New stress = new flare = new doc = new scope = new meds.) After seeing active disease, he prescribed 9mg Entocort daily. After I filled the new Entocort prescription last week, it dawned on me that I still had about 50 Entocort pills leftover from my 2007 run.
Wanting to save myself a few $20 copays, I've started taking the leftover Entocort. The note on the bottle says to "use before 12/07/2008," but I'm not sure if that's a suggestion, or an actual expiration date. (It could make people buy more pills unnecessarily, or it could save them from less-effective medication.)
Any thoughts on expired/leftover medication? It's been too early to notice the difference between the "fresh" and the "leftover" Entocort, as I've only been on it for a week now (and 3 months in 2007).
Thanks for your advice!

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 157
   Posted 11/3/2009 4:24 PM (GMT -7)   
The reason that medicine has an expiration date is that the compounds within the medicine change over time. The entocort that you bought in 2007 and the entocort that you have left over are not the same chemical, and your body will metabolize them differently.
I would not take it. Even if it hasn't changed that much, I still don't think it's worth the risk.
Hope you feel better though! I just moved to Chicago in August and saw a new GI at the University of Chicago hospital yesterday. I absolutely was amazed at how good she was.

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 1177
   Posted 11/3/2009 4:46 PM (GMT -7)   
I read that entocort 3mg tabs has a shelf life of 36 years when stored under 30 degress C. I think you're probably ok taking the 2007 one, but of course I have no other knowledge other than reading some information by googling for it. So I could be way off base, and I could be giving you bad information.

Here's my source:

To me, the link above looks like the medicine insert that comes with Entocort, and it says that the shelf life is 3 years whens stored properly. If it is the medicine insert, I would trust it. Another place where you can probably get reliable information is from the pharmacist.

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 1768
   Posted 11/3/2009 5:03 PM (GMT -7)   
The problem is that most people don't store medicine properly. Not pointing fingers or anything, because I'm guilty of it too, but most of us have it in our bathrooms, which have humidity. The temp in there might be ok, but the humidity isn't.

I would probably not take the old meds...if the date were closer, maybe within 6 months of their "use by" date, I would, but it's pushing it, and if your body is in need of the medicine to make you feel better, you're better off knowing that if it doesn't help, it's not possible that it's just old medicine. Just my opinion.

31 yr old female-dx with Crohn's in '97 after emergency resection and appendectomy, 2nd resection '05, Bilateral pulmonary emboli 10/09
Currently on Humira, Omeprazole, Effexor, Seroquel, Calcium, Vit D, sublingual B12, Coumadin

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 637
   Posted 11/3/2009 8:35 PM (GMT -7)   
Medicine can lose it's potency over time, it may not work as well.

Ask a pharmacist to be certain.
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Elite Member

Date Joined Feb 2004
Total Posts : 20577
   Posted 11/3/2009 9:17 PM (GMT -7)   
This would be an excellent question for your pharmacist.

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Carnival Huckster
Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 159
   Posted 11/3/2009 9:58 PM (GMT -7)   
I believe that Entocort has a shelf life of 36 months (3 years.) Personally, I would use the expired entocort if it was me. They usually pad in an little extra expiration time to protect themselves :-) Unlike Entocort, which is a steroid, I would not use expired antibiotics under almost any circumstances.

34 year old male
Crohn's Disease for 12 years
Current Medications: 9mg entocort
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Post Edited (Carnival Huckster) : 11/3/2009 10:04:44 PM (GMT-7)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1522
   Posted 11/3/2009 10:34 PM (GMT -7)   
Unless it came in the original package, every prescription I've ever gotten has had an expiration date exactly one year from the date I filled it. It doesn't matter what pharmacy I've used, it's always been one year exactly.

Prescriptions, such as ointments, that come in their original package (with a pharmacy label slapped on) have the manufacturers expiration date on them so they are more accurate.

There is no way to check when the actual expiration date for your pills was since they don't still have the original bottle. It's possible they expired exactly when your label says or maybe they haven't expired yet.

Most meds become less effective as they age but they don't become toxic. Some deteriorate quickly and some are fine far past their date. You should ask the pharmacist but I bet they'll tell you that you shouldn't use them. They have to cover their butts so they won't tell you it's ok to take expired medication.
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