Do Baby Aspirin Expire?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not baby aspirin expire.

Do Baby Aspirin Expire?
May 13, 2018

Carol asked

Was wanting to know if its ok to take St Joseph baby aspirin that seemed to have expired in 2014? They don't smell funny. I plan to replace just can't right now.


Expired AspirinEvery medication, including aspirin and other over the counter drugs, have an expiration date that ensures that the drug is safe to use and should work as intended. So yes, baby aspirin (i.e. aspirin 81 mg) does expire.

Expired medications may be less effective or the strength of the drug can be decreased, potentially causing therapeutic failure. This is especially important for medications like baby aspirin, which is used for heart attack and stroke prophylaxis. 

In addition, some medications can be susceptible to bacteria after the expiration date, while others can change chemical composition and create a risk of unwanted side effects. 

If your medication is expired or you cannot find the expiration date on the bottle, it is not recommended to take the medication. This is one of the reasons why it is important to keep all medication in the original bottle.

Are Any Medications Good After Expiration?

While clinically it is not recommended to take an expired medication, a study regarding a program to extend expiration dates found that many drugs are still effective after the expiration date. In fact, many medications can remain the minimum acceptable potency for well over the indicated expiration.

The problem is there is just no way to tell if a medication will retain the listed potency after expiration without specific testing. Therefore, to ensure a potent product, it is recommended to replace expired medication.

Are Expired Medications Harmful?

There have been no reports regarding harm caused from taking expired aspirin, but it may not work as effectively. It is for this reason that it is recommended to buy a new bottle of aspirin to make sure that you are receiving the full dose of medication.

Recommendations To Protect Your Medications
  • Protect medications from exposure to light and moisture.
  • Store at room temperature away from heat, unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer.
  • Avoid drastic changes in temperature.
  • Keep medications in the original bottle with the expiration date.

If a medication has expired remember to dispose of the medication properly. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a drug take back program to get rid of your expired or unneeded medications that can be found on their website here, or your can contact your local law enforcement to see if they participate in the FDA drug take back program.

When disposing of medications in the trash at home the FDA recommends the following steps:

  • Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This makes the medicine less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through the trash looking for drugs.
  • Put the mixture in something you can close (a re-sealable zipper storage bag, empty can, or other container) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.
  • Throw the container in the garbage.
  • Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.

Only certain medications can be flushed down the toilet or drain because they are considered harmful to others. A list of these drugs can be found here. Additionally, some pharmacies have a medication disposal envelope for a small fee. Check at your local pharmacy to see if this option is available.

Ready for a more personal experience with your meds?