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Drug expiration is the date after which a drug might not be suitable for use as manufactured. Consumers can determine the shelf life for a drug by checking its pharmaceutical packaging for an expiration date. Drugs which are past their shelf life can decompose and either be ineffective or even harmful. Standard advice from drug manufacturers and some health organizations is to dispose of drugs after the expiration date printed on the packaging.
However, the published expiration date is not an absolute indication that a drug has spoiled. Consumers and organizations sometimes use expired drugs for medical treatment either as a cost saving measure or because they otherwise cannot access drugs which are not expired.
Medical authorities find it difficult to discuss when consumers can safely use drugs after the printed expiration date because it is hard to get clear information. Manufacturers print expiration dates on drug bottle labels. The expiration date printed on drug packaging will differ from the true expiration date of the drug.
Before choosing an expiration date to print the manufacturer must first decide a true expiration date. The United States' Center for Drug Evaluation and Research officially recommends that drugs past their expiration date be disposed. Some consumers can face the difficult position of being unable to afford their medication, and choosing between using expired medication or forgoing medication.
Consumers sometimes store drugs which they ought not use, regardless of being expired. People who have leftover antibiotics might feel that they can use them safely if they are not expired, or even if they are expired. Drug recycling is a fringe and experimental concept but in some places it happens. To reduce the cost to the military of maintaining stockpiles of certain pharmaceuticals, the United States Department of Defense and the Food and Drug Administration operate a joint initiative known as the Shelf Life Protection Program SLEP , which evaluates the long-term effectiveness of medications stockpiled by the DoD and other government agencies.
Under the program, medications are tested for safety and stability for extended periods of time in controlled storage conditions. In many cases, medications tested were found to be effective for years past their printed expiry dates; a study by the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences found that two-thirds of medications tested through SLEP remained effective for an average of at least four additional years.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Shelf Life Extension Program. Retrieved 30 March Drug expiration dates - Harvard Health". Retrieved 2 May Handbook of stability testing in pharmaceutical development: Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 18 July Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.