Does Oxycodone Expire?

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

Does Oxycodone Expire?
Jun 03, 2018

GI. asked



Expired DrugOxycodone, like all medication, will expire after a set period of time. After the expiration date, there is no guarantee that the medication retains the labeled potency and therefore, may not be as effective as it once was.

Oxycodone Expiration

The expiration date on oxycodone is determined by multiple factors but, most importantly, it refers to how long the manufacturer is willing to guarantee that the product meets the labeled standards of potency and purity.

Most medication is listed with an expiration date of 2-3 years from the time of manufacturing, which typically correlates with the time period for which the manufacturer performed stability testing. After this expiration date, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the medication “goes bad”, it just means that there is no data the medication will still retain the listed potency and purity when stored at proper conditions.

It is interesting to note that several studies have shown that many medications do retain a significant percentage of their original potency, even after being well-past the expiration date. The FDA even created the SLEP (Shelf Life Extension Program) based on the results of their stability studies and expiration dates to avoid the costly need of replacing medication stockpiles every few years.

The SLEP is intended more for emergency preparedness and not as a statement regarding the safety of using expired medications. In the setting of an individual patient and an expired drug, it would be prudent to simply replace your expired oxycodone with one that is in-date to guarantee that drug will work as intended.

Beyond-Use Date Vs. Expiration Date

When a pharmacy dispenses you a medication, it must be labeled with an expiration date or a beyond use date. The beyond use date that is listed depends on the product being dispensed and takes into account how long a drug is stable after being dispensed. In most cases, the beyond use date will be shorter than the manufacturer expiration date as the beyond use date specifically refers to an expiration time after dispensing or repackaging a medication.

The state in which you are located has laws to determine the beyond-use date for most dispensed products. Most commonly, and as a general rule of thumb the beyond-use date (commonly listed as the expiration date on the prescription bottle) will be one year, or the manufacturer listed expiration date, whichever is sooner.

Can You Take Expired Oxycodone?

When it comes to taking oxycodone that expired in 2011 in particular,m it is recommended that you not take expired product. The biggest reason for this is the nature and intended use of the medication. Oxycodone is an opioid agonist used to treat pain. It has a wide range of potential side effects including but not limited to:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Respiratory depression
  • Dependence

When past its expiration date, especially by this many years, the potency of your oxycodone may be affected, resulting in your body not responding how it normally would to the medication. This could result in therapeutic failure and poor pain relief. In addition, if you have not been prescribed oxycodone to treat your current condition, taking it outside of the prescribed parameters can lead to an increased risk of overdose and possible serious side effects.

Without specifically testing the expired oxycodone, there is no way to tell if it has degraded. Therefore, it is recommended that if you do have oxycodone that has expired and are prescribed it, you should see your doctor for a new prescription.

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