What to do with expired medication

- You've probably wondered how long you can keep your prescription or over-the-counter medication after it expires.

"It could be anywhere from a month after the expiration date to three, four, five years," said Randy Shreck, a pharmacist at Drug Mart on the Upper East Side.

Shreck said the drugs could be effective for a long time after the expiration date, but there is really no way to know for sure.

"My advice is when in doubt, throw it out," Shreck said. He added that many factors can affect the potency of a drug, including how it is stored. 

Some New Yorkers told Fox 5 they suspect expiration dates could all be a ploy from pharmaceutical companies to make more money by forcing people to throw out drugs by a certain date. Customers will then need to make more frequent purchases.

So how should you discard your expired drugs? Shreck said you should mix the medication with another substance (such as coffee grinds) to disguise it, place in a sealed bag, and then throw it in the trash. He said by doing this you keep the drugs out of someone else's hands and out of our water supply.

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