When does my prescription expire?

Having to keep track of which prescriptions need refills and when they expire can be an overwhelming task, especially if you’re juggling multiple medications or have a busy life. Are you ever unsure as to when your prescription medication is no longer valid? Have you ever had difficulty understanding how long a particular medicine will remain effective in your body? If so, this blog post is for you. 

It’s time to answer the frequently asked question: when does my prescription expire? Keep reading and learn what factors influence the expiration date of your prescription drugs, as well as tips on setting reminders so that refilling prescriptions does not become a last-minute rush job.


How long is a prescription valid for?


Prescriptions have a wide range of expiration dates, depending on the individual medication and its formulation. Most are generally valid for six months from the date they were filled by a healthcare professional. This does not mean that your prescription will become ineffective after this period; however, it is always recommended to check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure your medication is still safe and effective. 

The date on the prescription will tell you when the medicine expires, as it will show when it was signed by a health professional, or it will have a date that indicates that the health professional has indicated it should not be dispensed before then. 

So, how long is a prescription usually valid? In the United Kingdom, a standard prescription is often valid for six months, unless the medicine prescribed contains a controlled medicine. A controlled medicine is usually marked with a “c” symbol or the words “controlled drug” and has stricter regulations in terms of prescription validity. These are often set for 28 days from the date on the prescription. These controlled drugs include opioid painkillers and benzodiazepines, for example.


The different types of prescriptions

There are different kinds of prescriptions for different types of medications. For example, some will be a one-off prescription, while others are repeat prescriptions. The latter option, which is normally prescriptions for schedule for a given fixed period by a doctor, can be filled multiple times without a new prescription; these are typically used for long-term treatments such as asthma inhalers or antidepressants, for example. Usually, these are NHS prescriptions – those dispensed by the National Health Service (NHS). As of Spring 2020, there is a flat charge of £9.35 per item on prescriptions. However, you may be exempt from payment depending on your circumstances.

In contrast, a private prescription is issued by a private medical practitioner, not the NHS. While you have to pay for this prescription type, they can be a convenient option for many people. For instance, if you are out of town and run out of medication and need an urgent prescription, you can get one from a private practitioner. But is an urgent private prescription valid from a private provider who isn’t your usual NHS doctor? Yes, because it is issued directly by a medical practitioner.

Here at NHS GP, you can see a doctor online and get medication prescribed or sort out a repeat if necessary, whether you’re away from home and cannot see your regular GP practice or if you simply prefer a more convenient option. Contact us if you need further guidance on whether your prescription has expired or if you need to get a new prescription urgently. You can do so from the comfort of your home at a time that suits you without having to go to see your usual GP in person.



To conclude, depending on the medication, prescriptions can be valid for six months from the date it was filled. However, controlled medications are typically valid for 28 days from the date on the prescription. You can also seek medical advice from a doctor over the internet if you need to get a new or repeat prescription urgently or if you can’t see your regular GP in person.

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