Can ibuprofen go bad?

In this short article, we are going to answer the question “can ibuprofen go bad?” with an in-depth analysis of whether ibuprofen goes bad or not. Moreover, we are going to discuss what causes Ibuprofen to degradation. 

Can ibuprofen go bad?

Yes, ibuprofen can become toxic and can go bad. Depending on the manufacturer, ibuprofen should be used within four to five years of opening the package.

Ibuprofen tablets, such as those sold under the trade names Advil and Motrin, are most effective four to five years after they are opened, though they can be taken for much longer.

It may come as a surprise, but medications can also go bad.

Is it possible to take expired ibuprofen?

The question of whether or not expired medications are still safe to take after the manufacturer’s stated expiration date is a prevalent one. Taking expired medication, especially outdated ibuprofen, is not recommended in most instances.

The expiration date is defined by the official USP (United States Pharmacopeia) as follows:

“The date after which pharmaceuticals should not be used if they are stored in an unopened manufacturer’s storage container or, in most cases, an opened and intact manufacturer’s storage container.”

When it comes to expired pharmaceuticals, the biggest worry is usually not one of safety, but rather one of effectiveness. It is extremely uncommon for a drug to “go bad” in the sense of causing physical harm. There are a few drugs that can degrade into dangerous components, but little is known about the components of ibuprofen breakdown and whether they can cause side effects (as mentioned above).

Most manufacturers assign an expiration date of two to three years from the date of manufacturing because that is how long they conduct stability tests.

When an expiration date is determined, the maker must provide data to show that the medication will meet the safety and potency standards before the date of expiration. It’s possible that an expired medication will work after the expiration date, but in most situations, the manufacturer only has evidence to support 2 to 3 years.

Although most pharmaceuticals might potentially have longer expiration dates, manufacturers have little motivation to do extended stability testing. 

There is a little financial incentive to do so, and selecting relatively short expiration dates necessitates repurchasing things after a certain amount of time has passed.

It is not recommended to take expired ibuprofen since it may not be as effective as it was when it was in-date, and the breakdown of the chemical may create bad effects if consumed. Because ibuprofen is readily available over-the-counter and affordable, it is recommended that expired ibuprofen be replaced with a single, up-to-date product.

What exactly does a prescription medicine’s “expiry date” mean?

Every prescription and over-the-counter medication has an expiration date that must be followed. And, like with food expiration dates, the repercussions of eating food after it has passed its expiration date can be severe. 

As a result, such dates are likely to be conservative, as they are intended to ensure that the drug product is fully functioning and safe to use during its shelf life. After that period of time, the medicine’s chemical components may undergo unforeseen modifications, rendering it ineffective.

Is there a limit to how long you may use outdated medication?

While it’s best to avoid utilizing outdated OTC medications, if you have a supply of pharmaceuticals, proceed with caution. It is doubtful that waiting a week, a month, or even a year after the expiration date will harm the medicine; the medicine will simply become less effective as a result of the delay. 

Even though a medication’s expiration date has passed, it does not become worthless immediately—at least not in all cases.

What causes Ibuprofen to degrade?

Ibuprofen, as a chemical substance, has been shown to be sensitive to degradation by a range of circumstances, including:

  • Excessive warmth
  • UV (ultraviolet) light
  • Moisture
  • Stress due to oxidation

Ibuprofen will deteriorate over time as a result of these stressors, and literature estimates that there are at least ten breakdown by-products from ibuprofen. 

The longer ibuprofen has been on the market after its expiration date, the more likely it has begun to break down. (1-(4-isobutylphenyl)-1-ethanol) is one of the products of ibuprofen breakdown that may have hazardous effects, however, the significance of this and the potentially deleterious consequences it may produce if ingested are unknown.

Aside from potential safety problems, once ibuprofen begins to break down, it will no longer be as effective as it once was, and so may be ineffective in addressing the symptoms for which it was prescribed (e.g. pain, fever, etc…).


In this short article, we answered the question “can ibuprofen go bad?” with an in-depth analysis of whether ibuprofen goes bad or not. Moreover, we discussed what causes Ibuprofen to degradation. 


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