Depression Crisis
September 25, 2016 2:29 AM   Subscribe

What is going to happen when I use these 'expired' meds?

I need to start up meds again *now*. Out of work, no insurance, no money. But I have leftovers from when I last tapered off.

Exp Date on both: 7-15-15

300mg bupropion xl (wellbutrin) 1 per day
100mg sertraline hcl (zoloft) 1 per day

I *am* going to take these. What can I expect? Side effects? Reduced efficacy?

(i'll be insured again soon-ish, so this is temporary, but urgent)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've taken older wellbutrin xl when I ran low, and it worked fine. The expiration date is a guarantee that it will work until then, but nothing magically happens for most medications. see
posted by gryftir at 3:05 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is this bottle from the manufacturer or a bottle from the pharmacy? At my pharmacy we always put on a six month expiration, no matter how much time was left. It would frequently be good for another couple of years.
posted by Trifling at 3:36 AM on September 25, 2016

Also most medications degrade very slowly over time, there's not some huge drop off after expiry. So my bet would be that when you take them, assuming these are meds that work well for you, you're going to feel better.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 3:40 AM on September 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have done this when I was out of meds, with this exact dosage even, and it was fine.
posted by corb at 8:00 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've heard that some medication gets stronger when it's old; can anyone chime in to confirm/rebuke?
posted by LoonyLovegood at 9:20 AM on September 25, 2016

fyi, Sertraline/ Zoloft is 4/ monthly prescription at Walmart. If you can get your doc to phone it in, it's affordable.
posted by theora55 at 9:28 AM on September 25, 2016

As a pharmacy tech, I wouldn't be allowed to tell you to take them if you were my patient, and that's almost certainly the answer you'd get if you called the pharmacy. But in real life, yeah, you'll be fine. They're almost certainly still good, and even if they had started to degrade, worst case scenario is they might be less effective. They won't harm you.
There are meds that aren't very stable and won't last as long, usually soluble or hydroscopic stuff, but anything that's in normal pill form tends to be fine way past its' official shelf life.
posted by BlueNorther at 1:09 PM on September 25, 2016

Ah, here's what I was looking for.
posted by BlueNorther at 1:16 PM on September 25, 2016

So, I can't recommend that you do this. However, given that you are going to, it is worth knowing that while the World Health Organization discourages the donation of expired or soon-to-expire drugs for disaster relief, the Food and Drug Administration says
The FDA would not object to the donation of drugs that are past or within
one year of the expiration date shown on the label when provided with sufficient
information to show the expired lot(s) are safe and effective. [...] FDA has and will allow the use of a drug
under similar circumstances when needed to alleviate a U.S. shortage.
(My emphasis; Source, see Q6).

In other words, the FDA acknowledges that there are cases when expired drugs are still safe and effective. This depends on the drug in question, and on its storage conditions. Basically, the expiration date is a point at which the manufacturer no longer guarantees that the drug is safe and effective, but this point is chosen very conservatively to protect the manufacturer from liability. (And in some cases to increase the market for a drug.)

I don't know what the half-life of Welbutrin and Zoloft are in pill form, but my guess is that the manufacturers probably give themselves a very good window of safety when choosing the expiry date on these drugs.

Again, I can't recommend that you take expired drugs. But incidentally, if I were in a tight spot and needed those medications, I wouldn't hesitate to take them, even with an expiration date of 7/15, and I wouldn't be terribly worried about the consequences.
posted by biogeo at 11:00 AM on September 26, 2016

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