What does "expired" mean when it comes to Claritin?
April 2, 2007 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Can I take expired Claritin RediTabs? Will they work?

I was given a huge quantity of Claritin RediTabs samples by my mom's friend (a pediatrician). At first this seemed like a huge windfall, and then I actually opened the box and saw they expired in January '07. Ah. No wonder they weren't in hot demand anymore.

Will it hurt me to take these tablets? Will they actually do anything to alleviate my allergies, or will they just melt in my mouth and evaporate into the ether? It would be really nice not to have to purchase Claritin for awhile.
posted by crinklebat to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would take them if I were you. My doctor friends tell me that it's ok to take most expired otc meds (vitamins, asprin etc.) They wont do you any harm, they're just not full strength anymore. You may have to pop two at a time (but hey, you've got lots!)

btw, IANYD
posted by special-k at 11:21 AM on April 2, 2007


They're totally fine.
posted by mkultra at 11:21 AM on April 2, 2007

"Dry" things such as medicine tablets have expiration dates for two reasons:

1) the drug company doesn't want to test them for efficacy after extended periods of time (i.e., to give a ten-year expiration date, someone had to sit some tablets on a shelf for ten years and then test them. During those ten years, they aren't selling the drug.)

2) the company wants you to buy more - they want some wastage of their product.

Dry, inorganic compounds such as most tablet medications, kept out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry environment, should retain their efficacy for a very long time indeed. Many, many years. What would happen to them? Chemical changes need some sort of fluid medium in which to occur.
posted by jellicle at 11:23 AM on April 2, 2007

January '07? That's not worry-worthy. (IANAetc,etc)
posted by sonofslim at 11:25 AM on April 2, 2007

I think you'll be fine
posted by ml98tu at 12:30 PM on April 2, 2007

I just found some in my bathroom that expired in October and took them* and they worked fine.

*one at a time, of course, not suggesting you take them all at once.
posted by found dog one eye at 12:30 PM on April 2, 2007

Most drugs in solid form last for many years past expiration. The dates are mostly pure fiction; you could probably be just as accurate by throwing darts at a calendar.

Some drugs are quite perishable, but Claritin... you're fine. Those pills should keep for a decade. You pediatrician probably wasn't allowed to give them out anymore, but you can use them just fine. Win-win; he'll just get new freebies. :)
posted by Malor at 1:48 PM on April 2, 2007

Best answer: As others told you, drug expirations are primarily a matter of continued effectiveness. The military continues to use a lot of drugs past their supposed expiration date, something they accomplish through testing in conjunction with the FDA. Here's an article that mentions it.

You lack their resources, obviously, but on the other hand what you're treating and what you're treating it with are very simple. Use them and take every 6 hours instead of 7, for example, if it seems to not be working as well as you would expect.
posted by phearlez at 1:59 PM on April 2, 2007

Don't double dose - just take them normally. Companies are conservative with their expiration dates, and those individual tabs are sealed quite well against the elements. If you were years past expiration, I'd pitch them, but a few months shouldn't be an issue.
posted by chrisamiller at 2:27 PM on April 2, 2007

To answer your question about what "expired" means for drugs, as a general rule the expiration date is set for when the drug is expected to fall below a certain potency level (usually somewhere around 80 - 95% of its initial concentration). So if a tablet contains 1.0 mg when it's fresh, it's expired when the drug concentration falls to 0.80 mg, or whatever limit the manufacturer has set.

This prediction is made based on stability studies in which the drug is held under certain conditions and tested at various times, and by looking at the trend, the manufacturer can predict when the drug will "decay" to that limit.
posted by Quietgal at 8:34 PM on April 2, 2007

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