If you have an outdated Cipro prescription in your medicine cabinet, you might be wondering if you should keep it around just in case the ongoing anthrax scare continues to spread.
Cipro isn't considered one of those drugs that can become toxic if it sits in the medicine cabinet too long, although it does weaken with time. Certain other antibiotics, however, such as tetracycline, do break down chemically over time and can make you very sick if ingested, said Dr. Michael Rudolph, executive director of community pharmacy practice at USC School of Pharmacy.
Kept in a cool, dry place, Cipro should retain about 90% of its potency by the expiration date on the label--either the manufacturer's expiration date or a date selected by your pharmacist. "You are probably going to be OK exceeding [the expiration date] by a few months," said Jennifer Cupo Abbott, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at the USC School of Pharmacy. "If you go much beyond that, you have concerns about the lack of efficacy, and that would be more of a concern here, given we're treating a disease we don't have a lot of experience with anyway."
Whatever you do, pharmacy professionals warn: Don't take those pills without consulting a doctor. Dosing yourself with antibiotics can be dangerous because of potential side effects.