Medicines have expiry dates so you know when to use them by. After the expiry date medicines may not be safe or as effective.
You should not take medicines after their expiry date. If you've had a medicine for a while, check the expiry date before using it.
You should also make sure that you've stored the medicine properly, as described on the packaging or leaflet.
If your medicine looks, tastes or smells different to when you first got it, even if it's within the expiry date, take it to your pharmacist for advice.
You can find the expiry date on the medicine packaging or on the label. This may say:
Expiry dates are put on medicines by:
The expiry date usually means that you shouldn't take the medicine after the end of the month given.
For example, if the expiry date is January 2019, you shouldn't take the medicine after January 31 2019.
If your medicine has a use by or use before date instead of an expiry date, this usually means that you shouldn't take the medicine after the end of the previous month.
For example, if the use by date is January 2019, you shouldn't take the medicine after December 31 2018.
If your doctor or pharmacist has given you any other instructions about using or disposing of your medicine, you should also follow these.
For example, your pharmacist may label a medicine: "discard 7 days after opening".
You should take any medicine that's left after this time back to your pharmacist to dispose of, even if it's within the manufacturer's expiry date.
Some medicines are given a short expiry date, such as:
If you have medicines that have passed their expiry date, take them to your pharmacist, who can dispose of them safely for you.
You should never throw unused or expired medicines in the rubbish bin or flush them down the toilet.