For some people expiration dates are a hard and fast rule. Gallon of milk that expired yesterday? Not worth it. For others, though, dates on food and other items are viewed as merely a suggestion. That yogurt in the back of the fridge probably has at least a week or two past the stamped date, right?
When it comes to veterinary drug expiration dates, it is not so safe to gamble. Animal Medical Hospital wants you to know why the dates on your pet’s medications matter.
The American Veterinary Medical Association mandates that veterinary drug expiration dates be provided on all dispensed medications when appropriate. All drugs originating from our pharmacy will have one displayed on the label.
Over time, any substance undergoes chemical changes simply due to environmental exposure. Prescription medications are no different. The FDA has set the legal definition for expiration to be the time at which 10% of the active pharmaceutical ingredient has decomposed.
Many drugs, such as antibiotics, are intended to be given as a full course with no leftovers. Others, though, may be prescribed on an as needed basis. This makes it more important to keep close tabs on the the expiration date.
Don’t Give Your Pet Expired Antibiotics
Preservatives in expired antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistant infections in dogs, whereas medications that have been weakened or become less effective due to a change in composition or potency pose a greater risk to your pet. Sub-potent antibiotics, if left on the market, can fail to treat infections, increasing the risk of bacterial growth and making antibiotics more susceptible to resistance. It is acceptable for vets to distribute expired medication, but only if it is to be used as directed and not poured, flushed, or incinerated. According to the findings of the study, of more than 100 drugs, 90% were still in good condition 15 years after their expiration date.
The terms “use before” the following date are stamped on most pharmaceuticals for human and animal use. What actually happens if the drug is used after the expiration date? Can it cause harm, does it help, does the potency change? Does the date really mean at that moment stop using it? Does it gradually spoil? A study was performed and the results were a surprise to many and shocking to others. Here are some of the facts from the medical authorities after several studies were performed: First, the expiration date is required by law, at least in the United States. But, the date only means that the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of the drug up to that date. It does not mean how long the drug is actually good for, or safe to use. Second, the medical authorities state that it is safe to take most drugs after the expiration date. Although some drugs may lose some of their potency over time, maybe as little as 5%, many are good for years after the expiration date. Most drugs degrade very slowly. In fact, many drugs were found to have the same potency for up to ten years after the expiration date. “Do not use” after such and such date is just an advertising ploy. “Manufacturers put expiration dates on for marketing purposes, rather than scientific reasons.” The dates are based on economics. There is no question that expiration dates should be adhered to with certain critical drugs like insulin, nitroglycerin, phenobarbital, statins, liquid antibiotics, etc. But, other drugs like aspirin and other NSAIDS do not lose their potency for years after the listed expiration dates. It is best to seek out advise from your physician or veterinarian. What is also important is where you get your prescriptions filled, and where you buy your over the counter drugs. Stick with name brands and known retailers. Be wary of the online and mail order houses.
The expiration of a medication varies based on several factors including the type of medication and the manufacturer. Most oral pills or capsules expire in 1 to 2 years from the date of manufacturing. Are they good longer than this?
The honest answer is…probably most oral pill or capsule medications are good for longer than their expiration dates. How long? I don’t know. For some medications, I would feel comfortable using on my own pets if they were expired by 1 to 2 years. Longer than 2 years, then I’d replace. If my pet was REALLY ill â then I would NOT use any expired medication. If my pet was…itching and it was 3 am and all I had was some expired Benadryl â I’d probably try it. This is what I would do and does not mean that it is right or wrong.
Medication still in powder form is probably still good for 1 to 2 years beyond the expiration on the label.
Most liquid medications that are not reconstituted also have a shelf life of 1 to 2 years but once reconstituted (mixed with water â such as powered amoxicillin is mixed with water) â most expire in about 7 to 14 days depending on the specific product. Most will have a longer shelf life if they are refrigerated. However, there are a few liquid medications that are less stable if refrigerated and they should clearly say so on the package.
There are several factors that can affect the “shelf life” including exposure to light, lack of appropriate refrigeration, and eventually…the chemical instability of the product that can occur with time. This last is the part that can be hard to determine with many products.
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