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Do you still have old prescriptions in your medicine cabinet?

Chances are, you’re one of many Americans who don’t have to heart to toss out expired pain relievers, cough syrup or sleeping pills. But you can’t seem to throw them away because you suspect they might still be okay to take. Well, according to recent studies, some medications are still potent after 50 years—so maybe you shouldn’t!

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A new analysis of eight prescription drugs that have well-surpassed their discard date, some by as much as 40 years, has found that these drugs are just as potent as the day they were manufactured.

Researchers California Poison Control System, UC San Francisco, and UC Irvine tested  the effectiveness of eight drugs that had been sitting around, unopened, in pharmacies for years after they had supposedly gone bad.

These drugs were not just a few years past their prime, these medications were a full 28 to 40 years past their official expiration dates.

The eight drugs contained a total of 15 active ingredients. The researchers couldn’t find a standard test for one of them (homatropine), so they focused their analysis on the other 14.

The tablets and capsules were dissolved and subjected to chemical analysis using a mass spectrometer. That revealed how much of the active ingredients remained in the pills.

Expiration? Drugs May Last Longer Than You Think  was originally published on

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