Heartland pharmacy explains if expired at home COVID tests are still useable

Expired at-home COVID-19 tests won't harm you, but may not deliver accurate results.
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 5:53 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2022 at 6:10 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - If you have an at-home COVID test that’s past its expiration date, don’t throw it away.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which authorizes the tests, extended the expiration date on more than a dozen at-home tests.

But one local pharmacy said there are plenty of tests available if you have doubts.

“Using an expired at home COVID test is not gonna hurt you. “It won’t cause any physical harm, but the results are not likely to be accurate.”

Abe Funk owns John’s pharmacy in Cape Girardeau.

“There are tons of at-home COVID tests available during the height of COVID,” he said. “The CDC did say you could go a little bit longer than the expiration date, if needed, when we were really short on supplies. At this point, there’s not a shortage.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized 22 COVID at-home tests. The agency is now saying most of those tests are still good months after the expiration date.

“When they made them, they didn’t know the stability and we kind of go through that even with drugs, where they will put a really short expiration date on products that are brand new because they just don’t know how long it’s going to last. So, through testing later on, they will find out, oh, it’s still stable, so they extend the dates. The same thing has happened with vaccines,” said owner Matt Mabie from Forward Pharmacy.

Funk said if you have an expired test kit it is still a good idea to check it’s expiration date.

“The most important thing without home COVID tests is it’s your security blanket,” Funk explained. “COVID is much better than what it was a couple of years ago, but it’s still out there and you may feel fine when you have it but your mother or grandmother, it could still or if you have an immunocompromised friend or neighbor, it could still hurt, so that piece of mind to test have a good expiration date on it make sure it’s in date and then you can know and you can take the appropriate precautions if you need to.”

The shelf life varies from test to test, from 4 months to 18 months, depending on the product.