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Mar 15, 2022
3 min read

Does Viagra expire? The shelf life of sildenafil

While no studies have been done specifically on expired Viagra (sildenafil), testing on other medications has found them to be stable up to 15 years past their expiration date. However, this can vary based on storage conditions and other factors, so taking Viagra past its expiration date is not recommended.

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.

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 after its expiration date, will anything bad happen? Keep reading to understand what that date means. 

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Does Viagra expire?

That “little blue pill” Viagra (active ingredients sildenafil citrate; see Important Safety Information) 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.

Risks of using expired Viagra

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).

References

  1. Borrelli, F., Colalto, C., Delfino, D. V., et al. (2018). Herbal dietary supplements for erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Drugs, 78(6), 643–673. doi:10.1007/s40265-018-0897-3. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29633089
  2. El-Sakka, A. I. (2018). Dehydroepiandrosterone and erectile function: a review. The World Journal of Men’s Health, 36(3), 183–191. doi:10.5534/wjmh.180005. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29756417/
  3. Gikonyo, D., Gikonyo, A., Luvayo, D., & Ponoth, P. (2019). Drug expiry debate: the myth and the reality. African Health Sciences, 19(3), 2737–2739. doi:10.4314/ahs.v19i3.49. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7040264/ 
  4. He, C., Wang, Z., & Shi, J. (2020). Pharmacological effects of icariin. Advances in Pharmacology (San Diego, Calif.), 87, 179–203. doi:10.1016/bs.apha.2019.10.004. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32089233/
  5. Lyon, R., Taylor, J., Porter, D., et al. (2006). Stability profiles of drug products extended beyond labeled expiration dates. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 95(7), 1549-1560. doi:10.1002/jps.20636. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16721796/
  6. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2020). Yohimbine. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548703/
  7. Sooriyamoorthy, T. & Leslie, S. W. (2021). Erectile dysfunction. [Updated Feb 14, 2022]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved on Feb. 17, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562253/
  8. UpToDate. (n.d.). Sildenafil: Patient Drug Information. Retrieved on Feb. 17, 2022 from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/sildenafil-patient-drug-information
  9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2016). Don’t be tempted to use expired medicines. Retrieved on Feb. 17, 2022 from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/special-features/dont-be-tempted-use-expired-medicines