Friday, August 8, 2014
An Update on Drugs and Its Expiration Date
This article was first posted on one of my blogs dated May 21, 2011. However, the content of this article has no expiration date. Enjoy!
The e-mail below was sent by Dr Sulit to Annie Miles, Current President of MI, Inc:
This e-mail, I believe was Dr. Sulit reaction due to a recent incident about the free drugs we gave to the poor and needy patients in the province of Marinduque during our last medical mission in the island. My personal reaction follows:
Attached are two of many articles about drug expiration dates which pharmaceutical companies are required to put on the labels of medicines which they manufacture. The expiration dates do not mean that the "expired drugs" immediately become ineffective and harmful after the expiration dates. Unfortunately, medicines which have passed that date are perceived as ineffective and harmful and create an alarming concern among practitioners and the patients. These articles should help clarify that some expired medicines which were among the left over drugs from the recent medical mission which were donated to the Marinduque health system are still good and safe to dispense to the patients.I thought that it is good to share
these information with other people so that they are also informed in case that the question is brought up to them, Warm regards, Hector"
As a former FDA employee ( I was Chemistry Team Leader), one of my many duties and responsibilities is to approve expiration dating of all new drugs submitted for approval in the Division Of Anti-Infective Drugs.
In general, tablets and capsules are still good and effective from 1 to 3 years after expiration when stored at room temperature. I have approved an anti-malarial tablet that was stable for 10 years. The stability of the drug is dependent on several factors,three of the important factors are storage temperature, packaging and its formulation.
In general, suspensions,syrups and aerosols, will still be good from 1 to 3 months after expiration. Most of these drugs have short expiration dates perhaps not more than 18 months or less.
Educating the general public and our missioners regarding drug expiration dating should be MI, Inc primary goal during our medical mission.
I remember an incident during our mission in Buenavista last February. Macrine and I were working in the pharmacy section one afternoon. Macrine gave a bottle of tablets to an elderly patient. The woman looked at the bottle and she saw that expiration date was December, 2010. She wanted to return it, but I interjected that the tablets are still good. She took the drug back with an attitude that we were giving her a "Poison".
This attitude is not an isolated case. The general public believes that once the drug has past its expiration date, it is no longer good and must be discarded immediately. My rule of thumb is: For capsules and tablets-one year after expiration is still good. For suspensions, syrups and aerosols, 3 months after expiration should be the norm.
However, drugs that are use for life threatening diseases such as insulin should never be taken past its expiration date.
Do you find this article informative. I will appreciate your feedback. Cheers!