Did you get expired Paxlovid? It may still be safe to take. Here’s how to make sure

Millions of Americans have used Paxlovid to treat COVID-19, but some have received medications that have expired, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Medications that are expired can be less effective and risky to take, according to the FDA.

“Certain expired medications are at risk of bacterial growth, and sub-potent antibiotics can fail to treat infections, leading to more serious illnesses and antibiotic resistance,” the FDA states.

However, the expiration dates printed on Paxlovid labels are likely incorrect since the FDA authorized an extension to the medication’s shelf life in January, according to the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices.

Here’s how to check Paxlovid expiration dates and what to do if your prescription is expired.

How to know whether Paxlovid is expired

In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a list of Paxlovid products that were approved to use beyond their original expiration dates.

If you are unsure of your medication’s expiration date, you can find it using the batch number on its outer carton and matching it to the list.

For example, medication with the batch number “GA6260” had an original expiration date of February 28, 2023, but it was adjusted to December 31, 2023.

What to do if your Paxlovid is expired

According to the FDA, if your Paxlovid is expired, the safest way to dispose of it is to deliver it to a drug take back site.

You can find an authorized drug collection site by calling the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Diversion Control Division Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539 or by typing “drug disposal near me” on Google Maps.

If there are no drug take back locations near you, you can follow these steps from the FDA to dispose of the medicine:

  • Mix the medicine with an unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds.

  • Place the mixture in a container, such as a sealed plastic bag.

  • Throw away the container in your trash.

  • Remove all personal information on the prescription label of empty medicine bottles or medicine packaging, then throw them away.

If you need replacement medication, you should contact your healthcare provider.