Last reviewed by Miljan Krcobic on August 28th, 2018.
What is Amoxicillin?
Amoxicillin is a beta- lactame antibiotic used to kill susceptible microorganisms responsible for bacterial infections. It is used to kill bacteria by inhibiting cell wall synthesis. Amoxicillin is a drug that is better absorbed when administered by oral route as compared to other antibiotics. Amoxicillin is a short acting drug therefore stays in the body for than less than a day. Amoxicillin is mainly indicated for ear, nose and throat infections, genitourinary tract infections, skin infections, lower respiratory tract infections.
Amoxicillin is available as capsules, tablets and syrup in the market. A paediatric (Suspension that is meant for babies) syrup is also available. Generally oral route is preferred and best suited for administration.
Do amoxicillin expire?
Just like all other antibiotics, amoxicillin also do expire. Generally amoxicillin is safe for consumption for many years, if it is stored carefully and as per standard storage of drugs.
Expiry date is the last day that the pharmaceutical companies / manufacturers guarantee the safety of the medication and it is mandatory on every medication /medicine that is available in market. FDA (Food and Drug administration) of USA has determined the specific expiry date for every medicine which is estimated by stability testing only.
Suspension, inhalers, nasal sprays shouldn’t be used after one day of expiry date. An expiration date extends from 1 to 3 years usually from the date of manufacturing. Some stability studies have shown the longer shelf life of drugs. Usually all antibiotics have a shelf life of 2 years due to a continuos supply in the market and a properly maintained production and consumption cycle.
Similarly amoxicillin also have a shelf life of 2 years from the date of manufacture. Liquid amoxicillin have a very low shelf life that is of just 10 days, once the seal is broken. One should ask their pharmacist regarding shelf life of amoxicillin at the time of buying and make sure that it have at least 1 year shelf life left before its expiration date.
How to identify an expired amoxicillin?
Your antibiotic / amoxicillin is expired if you:
- If you have not stored the amoxicillin in proper storage conditions (that is away from light and moisture).
- If you notice any deterioration of the drug.
- If you see any discolouration or change in colour of the drug.
- If you don’t see any effectiveness of the drug after few days of expiry.
- If you experience any foul odour or smell from the container of the drug.
- If you see a disintegrated or broken tablet within the strip or separated layers of the liquid inside the container.
Do expired amoxicillin loses its potency?
Amoxicillin was tested and studied by the American Medical Association (AMA) for its actual shelf life and for extended expiration beyond the original shelf life. The studies have done in order to check stockpiled military medications, and the drugs like amoxicillin shows extended expiration dates ranged from 1 year to 5 years.
The results show that the amoxicillin also may have extended shelf lives beyond its expiry. So the potency may not decline in even after its expiration date. Still, no healthcare or pharmacist can predict the extended shelf life of a particular product. The shelf life of a drug mainly depends upon following factors:
- drug ingredients
- presence of preservatives
- Temperature fluctuations
- Humidity etc.
Sometimes amoxicillin may lose its potency and shelf life if repackaged into another container (often carried out in pharmacy).
Is it safe to take expired amoxicillin?
Generally an expired medicine do not harm after few days of its expiry. But you should not use an expired amoxicillin especially in liquid suspension form because amoxicillin in the reconstituted suspension form require refrigeration and may not produce the desired effect if expired. There are so many concerns that stop one from taking expired amoxicillin:
- Reduced Efficacy: Efficacy is most important factor when comes to checking the expiry of any drug, because efficacy means the capability of the drug to produce required effects. Expired amoxicillin may not contain the desired efficacy and may not treat the minor conditions because of low efficacy. As a result, one may not find any relief from infections even after long term medications and could lead to more deteriorating conditions due to improper treatment, ultimately lead to lessen productive days at work.
- Improper Safety: Other important factor is safety, amoxicillin tablet can disintegrate, liquid may separate into layers and colour of suspension may change in the container. Such factors make the expired amoxicillin unfit for consumption.
Thus it is advisable to check the expiration date on the boxes, strips and containers before buying. and one should discard the amoxicillin, once it get expired.
What happens if you take expired amoxicillin?
Usually all medications in tablet form loses its potency and effect after a certain period of time but expired liquid form of any medications does not contain any efficacy. If you take an expired amoxicillin, it may disturb your immune system and may weaken your immunity. Plus an expired amoxicillin may not give you an accurate dose and which may result into no effect or reduced effects.
In case an expired amoxicillin is taken and patient notices the reduced effects or any undesired effect, the expired amoxicillin should be replaced. If liquid, injectables, drops or suspensions looks cloudy or discoloured, they should be replaced and should not be taken at any condition.
How to dispose off an expired amoxicillin?
All medicines come with an expiry date for a reason and so do amoxicillin. The dose of antibiotics are given and advised to finish till the bottle empty in order to provide desired effect. The amoxicillin gets expired if you have not finished the previous dose prescribed by your healthcare practitioner. One should not keep the expired medications for longer and should discard them as soon as they get expired. You should not flush the expired amoxicillin as the chemical from the medicines can contaminate the water supply system and food chain.
You should check with your local pharmacy and healthcare practitioner’s office for proper medication disposal receptacles.
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