Dear Readers: Is it safe to take a medication after its expiration date? According to the experts from the Food and Drug Administration (, consumers need to be aware of the potential harm of taking an expired medication or one that may have degraded due to not being stored according to instructions on the label. An expired drug may have lost potency, lessening its effectiveness. If a drug has been improperly stored, it may degenerate and yield toxic compounds that could lead to unintended side effects.

Talk to your doctor and pharmacist and read the labels for over-the-counter medications and the handouts that come with your prescription.

— Heloise

Where to write: Got a hint you want to share? Send your tips and tricks to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000. Send a fax to 1-210-HELOISE, or email