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Significance of Expiry Date of Medicines

October 16, 2012  by: Paulose  Points: 20   Category: Health    Views: 687

It is a globally accepted norm that drug manufacturers should stamp an expiration date on their products. This is a recognized mark of guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug. What is the significance of this “expiry date” and how is it useful for people?


It is a law of every government that drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products. The expiry date printed on the drug has significant meaning in assuring the effect of that drug to the customers. Although an expiry date is marked on the drugs, some medical authorities state that use of those drugs may be safe for some more time even after the date of expiry.

Significant meaning of expiry date

Expiry date marked on a medicine means that the manufacturer of that drug guarantees that the drug will be 100% effective until that date, provided it is protected as per directions. It is called the shelf period. I you did not store the drug as per instructions, the guarantee cannot be active since the drug may lose its potency.

Can we use the expiry dated medicines after the due date?

Expiration date does not really indicate that the particular drug becomes ineffective after that expiry date. The Federal Drug Administration of USA has found out after their extensive studies on expiry dated drugs that nearly 88% of the tested drugs(after their expiry dates) remained potent for a year after their due dates. Storing in controlled environment might have been the reason for their potency after their shelf life.

How to know if the drug can be used after the expiry date?

Sense of smell may help in some cases. For example, aspirin may have a smell vinegar when it gets degraded. But you can not rely on this sense of smell for all medicines. Another drawback is the sense of smell may not be the same for all, especially for aged.

Commercial world and expiry date

Drug companies prefer shorter expiry periods since they can promote their business. The longer the expiry date aims for, longer time it will take to release their next product. This may affect their production. Moreover, shorter periods can convince the customers to buy more, even if they had not used what they had in stock. The authorities insist that the expiry date strictly because sales of such drugs may create unwanted problems.

How to dispose drugs after their expiry date?

1) Although the effectiveness of most of the drugs may decrease over time, they do retain the original potency for some time. They can be used prudently by storing them in well-protected environments. If the container of the drug is opened and used, the expiration date on the container does not apply and it is not safe to use it afterwards.

2) Generally, the labels on the drug contain the details of how the drug may become ineffective.

3) Certain medicines such as nitroglycerin (used for heart problems) and eye drop medicines should not be used a few days after opening the containers.

4) Disposal of the drugs after their expiry date should be done carefully. They should not be misused or reached by children or animals.

Researchers on the stability of drug products after their expiration dates have stated that many of the drug products stored in their unopened containers remained stable for an average of 5 years even after their labeled expiration date. Drugs have to be handled carefully since they have a vital role in protecting health and life.


Author: Adi        
Posted Date: 10/21/2012    Points:2    

Whenever I go to medical shop to buy tablets, the first thing I check is the Expiry date. But the bitter truth is that most of the medical shops do not dispose expired drugs carefully.

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