MACON, Ga. — When you have a throbbing headache or your allergies act up, you tend to go straight for the medicine.
You may come across some expired prescription drugs in your cabinet and wonder, 'Is it safe to take these or should I throw them out?'
13WMAZ's Ensley Nichols set out to Verify the answer to that question.
Her sources are an article from the Federal Drug Administration website, and Jennafer Pennell. She has a doctorate in Pharmacy, and now serves as the Director of Pharmacy at the Medical Center, Navicent Health.
Here's what she found.
Christa Wilson looks into her medicine cabinet.
"Basic daily drugs in here like bare aspirin and Benadryl," Wilson said.
Bad allergies, headaches, or an upset stomach -- Wilson is prepared for it all. However, some of these pill bottles run past their expiration date.
"July 2018," Wilson reads off one of the bottles in the cabinet.
Wilson says whenever she gets over an illness that requires a prescription, she saves the antibiotics just in case.
"I might not keep a prescription for 10 or 15 years, but for 6 more months or another year? Yes, I would," she said.
Are those prescriptions safe to take to treat your next illness? The FDA says they may be safe, as in they won't hurt you, but they may not help you either.
You see, it's all about the drugs' "potency" -- basically, how effective it is.
They say less potent drugs can fail to treat infections and lead to more serious illnesses.
If you're trying to cure something like the sniffles, that's OK, but if you're looking to cure something more serious like high blood pressure, that can be harmful.
"For things like high blood pressure, diabetes, where it's critical that the drug actually helps you maintain the stability of your body related to those, then I would not take those after the expiration date," said Medical Center, Navicent Health Director of Pharmacy, Jennafer Pennell.
So, we verified it's not safe to take those prescription drugs after the expiration date.
The FDA says it's risky and possibly harmful to your health.
Once you pass the date stamped on the bottle, there is no guarantee the pills are safe to take. That's why Pennell says get rid of them.
"Mix the medications in with used coffee grounds or kitty litter, or something that would make them undesirable to others, and put it in a bag or some other container that can be thrown into the trash," Pennell said.
So next time you're sorting through your medicine cabinet, be mindful of the date on the bottle.
You can find drug disposal boxes at your local CVS and Walgreens Pharmacies.