Does Viagra (sildenafil) expire? The shelf life of sildenafil

Reviewed by Chimene Richa, MD, 

Written by Health Guide Team 

Reviewed by Chimene Richa, MD, 

Written by Health Guide Team 

last updated: Mar 15, 2022

2 min read

Have you ever wondered about that little expiration date stamped on your medications? Even that bottle of Tylenol you keep in the cupboard for emergencies has one. But can medications really expire? If you take your Viagra (sildenafil) after its expiration date, will anything bad happen? Keep reading to understand what that date means. 

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Does Viagra (sildenafil) expire?

That “little blue pill” Viagra (active ingredients sildenafil citrate) is an FDA-approved oral medication for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED). Like all drugs, Viagra has a specific expiration date. This labeling started in 1979—long before Viagra was available on the market—when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began requiring expiration dates on all over-the-counter and prescription drugs (FDA, 2016). 

But what does this date actually mean? It refers to when the manufacturer guarantees it’ll be stable in its original sealed packaging.

That doesn’t mean a drug automatically becomes unstable once the expiration date has passed. In fact, one study showed that most drugs remain effective even 15 years past their expiration dates (Gikonyo, 2019). 

Still, there aren’t any studies on how Viagra, in particular, performs after its expiration date, and other factors are unknown—such as the specific lot and storage conditions. Also, the expiration date refers only to medication in its original sealed packaging—once opened, the expiration date may no longer apply.

Viagra Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Risks of using expired Viagra (sildenafil)

Because of the stability uncertainty, the FDA doesn’t recommend using drugs past their expiration dates. There is always the chance that expired medications may be less effective due to a change in chemical composition over time (FDA, 2016). Medicines exposed to high heat or humidity may have degraded, leading to a weaker active ingredient.

It’s no different in the case of the brand name or generic version of Viagra. Once the medication has expired, there’s no guarantee it will be as effective as it had been. 

The common side effects of Viagra, under normal circumstances, include flushing, headaches, stomach problems, light sensitivity, runny nose, and body aches. But serious side effects can also occur—these include chest pain, erections that last longer than four hours, shortness of breath, and vision changes. Once your Viagra is past its expiration date, it’s difficult to know your likelihood of developing side effects, even if you have taken it before. 

The best way to store Viagra is in a dry place that stays at room temperature. Avoid storing the drug in the bathroom, where it can be exposed to humidity (UpToDate, n.d.).

Safe medication disposal

Contact your healthcare provider to get a new prescription if your medication has expired. Don’t flush your expired medications down the toilet. Instead, follow the FDA guidelines and mix your expired Viagra tablets with unpalatable substances like dirt, coffee grounds, or kitty litter. Then place it in a sealed plastic bag and throw it away in your household trash. Alternatively, you can take advantage of drug take-back programs (FDA, 2016).

DISCLAIMER

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

March 15, 2022

Written by

Health Guide Team

Fact checked by

Chimene Richa, MD


About the medical reviewer

Dr. Richa is a board-certified Ophthalmologist and medical writer for Ro.

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