Will expired lisinopril hurt you?

Quick Answer

Taking expired lisinopril is generally not recommended, as the drug may be less effective or potentially cause harm if it has degraded over time. However, in most cases, taking a recently expired lisinopril pill occasionally is unlikely to cause major issues. The expiration date provides an assurance that the medication will be at full potency until that date.

What is lisinopril?

Lisinopril is a medication used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. It belongs to a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors that work by relaxing blood vessels to improve blood flow and decrease blood pressure.

Lisinopril works by blocking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which normally produces a hormone called angiotensin II that narrows blood vessels. By inhibiting ACE, lisinopril allows blood vessels to relax and widen, making it easier for the heart to pump blood and lowering blood pressure.

In addition to high blood pressure and heart failure, lisinopril is sometimes prescribed after a heart attack and for kidney problems in people with diabetes. It is available as generic lisinopril and under the brand names Zestril and Prinivil.

Does expired lisinopril become toxic or dangerous?

Lisinopril, like most medications, has an expiration date printed on the bottle that provides an estimate of the date up until which the manufacturer guarantees the drug will maintain its potency and safety.

However, expiry does not mean the medication suddenly becomes toxic or immediately dangerous on that date. Most drugs simply start to slowly degrade over time after their expiry date passes.

How long lisinopril remains safe and effective after the expiration date depends on factors like how it was stored:

Storage conditions

Heat – Exposure to high temperatures speeds up breakdown of chemicals in the medication. Storing lisinopril in a hot environment like a bathroom medicine cabinet or hot car can shorten its usable lifespan.

Humidity – Moisture in the air can react with medications and cause faster deterioration. It’s best to keep lisinopril in the original manufacturer packaging until used.

Sunlight – UV rays and visible light can also degrade medications. Storing lisinopril in the dark helps extend its shelf life.

Proper storage in a cool, dry, dark place at room temperature helps lisinopril maintain its potency for longer after the listed expiry date. Refrigeration can further extend its shelf life.

Formulation type

Tablets – Solid formulations like lisinopril tablets tend to hold up better to age-related breakdown compared to liquids. As long as they remain dry, intact tablets that have been properly stored can often last years past expiry.

Solutions – Liquid formulations are more prone to degradation, separation, and growth of microbes over time. Lisinopril syrups or solutions may lose potency sooner after expiration compared to tablets.

So while lisinopril does not immediately transform into a toxic substance on its expiration date, extended storage past expiry, especially in suboptimal conditions, does increase risk of potency loss.

What happens if you take expired lisinopril?

If stored properly, lisinopril tablets that are recently expired by a few months or even 1-2 years are unlikely to pose much risk. At worst, the medication may be slightly less effective.

However, over time more significant degradation can occur, resulting in these possible issues:

Reduced effectiveness

The active ingredient in lisinopril, after expiry, may break down into forms that do not effectively lower blood pressure as intended. Taking an expired lisinopril could mean your high blood pressure or heart failure is no longer well controlled.

Unpleasant side effects

As lisinopril degrades, it can form impurities or byproducts that may cause side effects like nausea, headache, blurred vision if taken. These are a sign the medication has oxidized or chemically changed.

Toxic reactions

In rare cases of severe degradation, completely expired lisinopril could potentially form compounds in the body that are toxic. The risks of this with a properly stored medication are extremely low, however.

Interactions with other medications

The altered forms of degraded lisinopril could theoretically interact with other medications you are taking in unanticipated ways that increase side effects or decrease therapeutic effects.

So while an expired lisinopril pill once in a blue moon probably won’t cause notable issues for most people, regularly taking degraded, expired medication could potentially result in health risks.

How long does lisinopril last past expiry?

It’s difficult to put an exact timeline on how long lisinopril remains usable after the listed expiry date, as it depends on variables like:

– Original expiration date – Longer initial shelf life provides a buffer. Lisinopril that expired last year is more likely still good compared to medication that expired 5 years ago.

– Storage conditions – Cool, dark, dry environment prolongs chemical stability vs. heat, humidity, sunlight exposure.

– Formulation – Lisinopril tablets maintain effectiveness longer than liquids.

– Original packaging – Foil blister packs or sealed bottles better protect against degradation.

Though precise timelines vary, studies have found:

– Lisinopril tablets stored in pharmacy conditions maintained at least 90% initial potency for up to 8 years after listing expiry date.

– 91% of medications stored in simulated home conditions in one study retained adequate potency for mean time period of 5.6 years after expiration.

So while official recommendations are to discard expired lisinopril, most tablets that have been properly stored in cool, dry conditions may be expected to retain reasonable potency for approximately 5 years past the listed expiry date in many cases.

However, there are no guarantees an expired medication remains 100% stable and effective. Over time, degradation is inevitable. So lisinopril that is more than 5 years expired should not be relied upon.

How can you tell if lisinopril has expired?

It is not possible to determine drug stability just by examining lisinopril tablets, since chemical breakdown is happening at the molecular level. However, here are some signs your medication may be expired:

Expired date on packaging

The expiration date listed on the medication bottle or box is the definitive way to know lisinopril has expired. Typically, you should not use lisinopril more than 1-2 years past this labelled expiry date for optimal safety and efficacy.

Discoloration or crumbling

Lisinopril tablets that have taken on an unusual color or are cracked, powdery, or crumbling could be signs the active drug has oxidized or broken down. While not definitive signs of degradation, drastic changes in appearance can indicate issues.

Unexpected side effects

If you experience odd side effects like nausea, headache, or dizziness from lisinopril this could signal impurities or instability issues with expired medication. However, side effects alone are not enough to confirm expiry.

Loss of efficacy

Lisinopril that is no longer adequately controlling your blood pressure or heart failure symptoms could mean it is past expiration and degraded. But symptom changes can also have other causes.

The only way to be 100% sure your lisinopril is not expired is to check the labeled expiration date on an unopened bottle from the pharmacy. If in doubt, do not take chances with your heart health – get a new prescription.

Can expired lisinopril make you sick?

While anything is possible, it is unlikely taking a recently expired lisinopril tablet that was stored properly will make you acutely sick with symptoms like vomiting, fever, or require hospitalization.

However, there are some scenarios where expired lisinopril potentially may cause health issues:

– Taking lisinopril that is years past its expiry date and severely degraded

– Consuming huge doses of degraded expired medication

– Having an underlying condition like liver disease that makes you more vulnerable to toxins

Milder symptoms like headache, dizziness, stomach upset are more plausible with expired lisinopril. And loss of intended therapeutic benefit is also a risk if the drug is unstable.

Talk to your pharmacist or doctor before taking any medication you suspect is expired, especially lisinopril, given its cardiac effects. When in doubt, do not take chances with degraded drugs.

Can I take lisinopril that was opened months ago?

Lisinopril tablets removed from original packaging and exposed to air may degrade faster, but can often still be taken for a period if stored properly in a sealed container. General shelf life guidelines after opening:

Lisinopril tablets – Can be used up to 3 months after opening if kept in a dry, sealed pill bottle at room temperature below 77°F (25°C). Discard sooner if humidity is high.

Lisinopril liquid – Opened lisinopril oral solution should be discarded after 56 days. Keep refrigerated.

However, expired tablets that have been opened for months can still lose potency and are at higher risk for contamination. Use your best judgement, and do not take lisinopril that seems excessively degraded or expired regardless of when it was opened.

Can you take old lisinopril that has been recalled?

If you have lisinopril that is expired and subject to a recall, it should not be taken. Drug recalls indicate a specific safety concern, manufacturing error, or unstable product – meaning the medication may put you at risk even if not expired.

Some lisinopril recalls have occurred due to:

– Nitrosamine impurities – Carcinogenic contaminant detected above safe levels.

– Tablet mix-ups – Mislabeled medication causing incorrect dosing.

– Crystallization – Drug degradation and stability failure issues.

Never take recalled lisinopril regardless of expiration date. Check the FDA databases regularly for any recalls issued for medications you are taking. And continue taking your prescribed lisinopril unless advised otherwise by your healthcare provider.

What are alternatives if lisinopril is expired?

If your lisinopril is expired, do not simply start taking a similar leftover medication you have around your home. Continuing your treatment is crucial, and only your doctor should advise specific alternate medications if needed.

Some options your doctor may recommend if you cannot take expired lisinopril include:

Medication Drug class
Enalapril (Vasotec) ACE inhibitor
Captopril ACE inhibitor
Losartan (Cozaar) Angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB)
Diovan (Valsartan) Angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB)
Hydralazine Vasodilator

Your doctor will help determine the most appropriate alternative medication for your situation if needed. Never swap out expired or recalled lisinopril for a medication you have on hand without medical guidance.

How should you dispose of expired lisinopril properly?

To safely dispose of lisinopril tablets that are expired or no longer needed:

– Take them out of the original container and mix with an undesirable substance like cat litter or used coffee grounds. This prevents inadvertently taking medication from the trash.

– Place the mixture in a sealed disposable container like an empty yogurt tub to prevent leakage.

– Discard this sealed container in your regular household trash.

– Scratch out any personal identifying information on the prescription packaging to protect your privacy.

– Ask your pharmacist about any local medication take-back programs or DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events.

Flushing lisinopril tablets down the toilet or sink is not recommended, as drug residues pollute the environment. Always check for approved disposal instructions on medication guides as well. And never share or give your expired lisinopril to others.


While lisinopril does not immediately turn toxic after its expiration date, taking severely degraded medication can come with increased health risks. Store lisinopril properly in cool, dry conditions and aim to use it within 1-2 years of the labelled expiry for optimal safety and efficacy. If you have any doubts about using expired lisinopril, speak to your pharmacist or doctor right away about whether a new prescription is needed. Never take chances with degraded or recalled medications, especially when it comes to your heart health.

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