Storing Medications Safely

Patient Expert

Last month I woke up with my third cold of the winter season.   This one came with a cough, so I pulled out a full bottle of cough syrup I remembered having in my medicine cabinet.   Imagine my surprise when I saw that it had expired in June of 2005   I decided it was time to do some spring cleaning of my medicine cabinet.

Fortunately, I've recently learned some medication storage tips that will prevent me having to throw away full bottles of expired medicine and I'd like to share those with you.

Tablets and Capsules

Prescription or over-the-counter medication in tablet or dry capsule form can be frozen.

  • Wrap the tablets or capsules in plastic wrap and put them back into their original container.
  • Put that container in a plastic bag and seal the bag, expelling as much air as possible.
  • Write the date on the bag and pop it in your freezer.

Freezing your medications also "freezes" their expiration dates.   For example, if your tablets have an expiration date of January 2009 and you freeze them in July 2008, whenever you take them out of the freezer they will still have six months left until they expire.

Liquids and Injectableo not freeze liquids, gelcaps or injectables.   They can be stored in the refrigerator with much the same effect as freezing tablets or capsules.

These storage tips are particularly useful for both prescription and over-the-counter medications you like to keep on hand but don't take every day.   And over time they can save you a lot of money since you won't have to throw away unused meds.   So take a few minutes and do a little spring cleaning of your medicine cabinet.

For more tips on medication storage and disposal, read "Give Your Medicine Cabinet a Check-up."