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.

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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.

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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

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Important Safety Information for Sildenafil (Viagra)

What are the most important things I need to know about VIAGRA® (sildenafil citrate) 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg tablets and generic VIAGRA®?

Discuss your health with your doctor to ensure that you are healthy enough for sex. If you experience chest pain, dizziness, or nausea during sex, seek immediate emergency medical attention.

  • VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA® can cause serious side effects. Serious, but rare, side effects include:
    • an erection that will not go away (priapism). If you have an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, seek emergency medical attention right away. If it is not treated right away, priapism can permanently damage your penis.
    • sudden vision loss in one or both eyes. Sudden vision loss in one or both eyes can be a sign of a serious eye problem called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). Stop taking VIAGRA and call your healthcare provider right away if you have any sudden vision loss
    • sudden hearing decrease or hearing loss. Some people may also have ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or dizziness. If you have these symptoms, stop taking VIAGRA and contact a doctor right away

    Who should not take VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA®?

    Do not take VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® if you:

    • Take any medicines called nitrates, often prescribed for chest pain, or guanylate cyclase stimulators like Adempas (riociguat) for pulmonary hypertension. Your blood pressure could drop to an unsafe level
    • Are allergic to sildenafil, as contained in VIAGRA® and REVATIO®, or any of the ingredients in VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® tablets.
    • Are a women or a child

    When should I call my primary provider?

    Call your primary provider right away if you:

    • Have an erection that lasts longer than 4 hours
    • Experience a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
    • Experience a sudden decrease in or loss of hearing
    • Experience chest pain, dizziness, or nausea during sex
    • Take too much Viagra or sildenafil citrate

    If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.

    What are the most common side effects of VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA®?

    The most common side effects are:

    • headache
    • flushing
    • upset stomach
    • abnormal vision, such as changes in color vision (such as having a blue color tinge) and blurred vision
    • stuffy or runny nose
    • back pain
    • muscle pain
    • nausea
    • dizziness
    • rash

    What should I tell my Roman-affiliated provider before taking VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA®?

    Before you take VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® , tell your healthcare provider if you:

    • Have or have had heart problems such as a heart attack,irregular heartbeat, angina, chest pain, narrowing of the aortic valve, or heart failure
    • Have had heart surgery within the last 6 months
    • Have pulmonary hypertension
    • Have had a stroke
    • Have low blood pressure, or high blood pressure that is not controlled
    • Have a deformed penis shape
    • Have had an erection that lasted for more than 4 hours
    • Have problems with your blood cells such as sickle cell anemia, multiple myeloma, or leukemia
    • Have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic (runs in families) eye disease
    • Have ever had severe vision loss, including an eye problem called NAION
    • Have bleeding problems
    • Have or have had stomach or intestinal ulcers
    • Have liver problems
    • Have kidney problems or are having kidney dialysis
    • Have any other medical conditions

    Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

    VIAGRA may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect the way VIAGRA works, causing side effects.

    Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take any of the following:

    • Medicines called nitrates
    • Medicines called guanylate cyclase stimulators such as Adempas® (riociguat)
    • Medicines called alpha-blockers such as Hytrin® (terazosin HCl), Flomax® (tamsulosin HCl), Cardura® (doxazosin mesylate), Minipress® (prazosin HCl), Uroxatral® (alfuzosin HCl), Jalyn® (dutasteride and tamsulosin HCl), or Rapaflo® (silodosin). Alpha-blockers are sometimes prescribed for prostate problems or high blood pressure. In some patients, the use of VIAGRA® with alpha-blockers can lead to a drop in blood pressure or to fainting
    • Medicines called HIV protease inhibitors, such as ritonavir (Norvir®), indinavir sulfate (Crixivan®), saquinavir (Fortovase® or Invirase®), or atazanavir sulfate (Reyataz®)
    • Oral antifungal medicines, such as ketoconazole (Nizoral®) and itraconazole (Sporanox®)
    • Antibiotics, such as clarithromycin (Biaxin®), telithromycin (Ketek®), or erythromycin
    • Other medicines that treat high blood pressure
    • Other medicines or treatments for ED
    • VIAGRA® contains sildenafil, which is the same medicine found in another drug called REVATIO®. REVATIO® is used to treat a rare disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). VIAGRA® should not be used with REVATIO® or with other PAH treatments containing sildenafil or any other PDE5 inhibitors (such as Adcirca [tadalafil])

    Withholding or providing inaccurate information about your health and medical history in order to obtain treatment may result in harm, including, in some cases, death.

    What is the FDA-approved use of VIAGRA® and generic VIAGRA®?

    VIAGRA® (sildenafil citrate) is prescription medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

    Roman-affiliated doctors may prescribe VIAGRA® or generic VIAGRA® for the treatment of premature ejaculation (PE), if they believe in their medical judgment that it is an appropriate course of treatment. While this is not an FDA-approved use of the drug, the American Urological Association has included the use of sildenafil citrate in the treatment of PE in its Guideline on the Pharmacologic Management of Premature Ejaculation.

    You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription products to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

    Please see the full Prescribing Information for complete safety information.

    Product names referenced herein are trademarks of their respective owners.