The answer is neither. A report in the journal Pharmacology Today looked at large stockpiles of drugs kept by the US military. Instead of dumping the medicine, worth millions of dollars, they tested them first and found that nearly 90 per cent of more than 100 different pharmaceuticals were fine, even up to 15 years after they had “expired” – though, some had lost a little potency.
The bottom line: Be cautious of pills such as antibiotics if they are out of date because they rely on strength to work properly, and anything in liquid form, as it’s likely to degrade quickly. But if you’re taking a drug to relieve minor symptoms (such as a painkiller for your hangover), an older, less effective version is better than nothing at all.