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I'm cleaning out the medicine shelf and ran across a 4 year old prescription for citalopram (celexa). I guess I must've had an anxiety issue at the time, but I can't remember (that is, I have occasional anxiety issues, but don't remember getting treated...yeah, memory issues, too, apparently-).

Anyway, I'm trying to decide whether to throw out the remainder (looks like I took maybe half--don't know why I stopped...maybe the anxiety ended or I decided it didn't work for me or I read the side-effects(!). WOuld this still be safe to take after 4 years anyway?

I don't have a doctor I can ask at the moment. (When our doc turned into a boutique practice 11 months ago, we decided not to cough up the extra cost to stay with her--$125/mo/pp!--and last winter we saw a new doc. But a few months later she left or retired (or was fired, who knows...the wording was cagy). I won't have time to do a proper search for a new doc until the winter (I had a complete physical w/labs a year ago and a partial one with the new doc last March, so I'm not in need of the basics for a while anyway).

SO...I'm asking here as this citalopram is also prescribed for depression, so I figured someone here may be familiar with it. Do you know if it's safe to take 4+ year old citalopram? I'm usually the sort of person who just throws out medication as soon as it reaches the so-called expiration date. But being retired on less income, I am much more cautious about wasting anything.
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I don't know about Celexa specifically, but:

Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

So the expiration date doesn't really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use. Medical authorities state expired drugs are safe to take, even those that expired years ago. A rare exception to this may be tetracycline, but the report on this is controversial among researchers. It's true the effectiveness of a drug may decrease over time, but much of the original potency still remains even a decade after the expiration date. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military. Placing a medication in a cool place, such as a refrigerator, will help a drug remain potent for many years.
from http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update1103a.shtml


I know that vitamins will start to smell weird and may change color when they expire and that can be a problem. Obviously, ones that have to be refrigerated will really have an expiration date.

But after I read this study - unless I see degradation in the pills, change in color or strange smell, I don't worry about it.

Ishtar
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I like Ishtar's information and I've kept medications (psychotropic and other) in my refrigerator for years. I also understand the fear and concern of disposing of medications when costs can be extremely high.

Other than talking to a physician, I'd suggest also asking a pharmacist that you trust and will give you candid information beyond disposing of all expired medications immediately.

Lois Carmen D.
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Thx very much, ish & Lois. Although I keep meds in the bathroom, the citalopram has each tablet in an individual bubble on a sheet, and they appear fine. I could've used some last week...
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All Rx medications have a expiration on the bottle. Ask your pharmacist what the date of expiration is on the current bottles that he has in stock.That will tell you about how long your pills should be kept.Also some pharmacies have the expired date on the Rx label,check yours
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All Rx medications have a expiration on the bottle. Ask your pharmacist what the date of expiration is on the current bottles that he has in stock.That will tell you about how long your pills should be kept.Also some pharmacies have the expired date on the Rx label,check yours

Once again. . . .

Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

So the expiration date doesn't really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use. Medical authorities state expired drugs are safe to take, even those that expired years ago. A rare exception to this may be tetracycline, but the report on this is controversial among researchers. It's true the effectiveness of a drug may decrease over time, but much of the original potency still remains even a decade after the expiration date. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military. Placing a medication in a cool place, such as a refrigerator, will help a drug remain potent for many years. from http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update1103a.shtml


Good enough for health.harvard.edu, good enough for me.

Ishtar
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