Shelf Life & Storage of Psychiatric Meds
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Q:  Shelf Life & Storage of Psychiatric Meds

Dear Dr. Phelps:

I would like to know if storing psychiatric medications in the freezer lengthens their shelf life. Is that a myth.  Do all meds have to be stored at 59F-86F?

I would also like to know where I can find authoritative information on the actual shelf life of common psychiatric medications.  The pharmacist puts one year from the date of the prescription for everything.  The following site has dispelled the belief that meds are only good for a year or even the date on the bottles placed by pharmaceutical companies:

I know I should go with the manufacturer, but I would like to keep my meds around for those "I need samples" moments.

I have zyprexa in storage for a rainy day; I am no longer prescribed it.  I currently take Trileptal, and I have many bottles.


Dear A' -- 
Sorry, man, you're way ahead of me.  That's a great site you referenced.  I'm adding that link to my website right now.  Searching Zyprexa shelf life there, for example, shows 2 years minimum, as you probably already know.  

Now, should it be in the refrigerator?  Would that make it last longer?  I know one patient who found that when she was going in and out of the bottle, the room air moisture would condense on the pills once it was back in the 'fridge, so the answer is clearly "don't do that" if it's the bottle you're using.  But what if it's a bottle you're stashing, unopened?  I don't know.  Can you ask some pharmacists for a reference-based answer and write me back on that?  Thanks for the great link, though.  

Dr. Phelps

Published March, 2004


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