What Do Drug Expiration Dates Mean?

Post date:2018.05.22

Expiration dates are set on various products to enhance the convenience of consumers. Users and consumers check expiration dates and use or discard products accordingly. This time, let’s think about the expiration dates on veterinary drugs which are basically determined in a similar way to the human drugs.

To obtain national pharmaceutical approval, specification of the method of inspection needs to be set up to produce and supply product stability. The amount of component substances and physical chemistry characteristics need to be determined clearly, otherwise different pharmaceutical preparations may be produced every time, and safe and effective preparations may not be supplied for consumers. Stability testing, which is essential for new drug approval, is used to determine shelf-life and storage conditions, and to verify that no changes have been introduced in the formulation. Generally, the data of 3 months beyond the desired expiration date are requested. Thus, the data for 1 year and 3 months are required to set up a 1 year expiration date. Sometimes, the government announces that the effectiveness and safety of products beyond the expiration dates do not have any problem when a small amount was used due to data mentioned above. The expiration dates are printed on labels of pharmaceutical preparations or the cases except for certain preparations. Due to the deregulation, the display of expiration dates is not required if the preparations have stability testing data for 3 years. Pharmaceutical preparations which are stable for 3 years are not expected to change in quality even excess for a short period, and might be sold out within 3 years. On the other hand, the marketing authorization holders have a merit which prevents disposing such products. However, we should avoid using pharmaceutical preparations beyond the expiration dates.

Incidentally, expiration dates are also displayed on food as well as pharmaceutical products. Two types of due date are displayed such as “best before date” and “expiration date”. Do you know the difference between them? Do you dispose food just beyond 1 day of best before date? Best before dates are used for stable processed food and refer to the period for which with safe storage no change of flavor and taste. Thus, we can eat such food even beyond a few days. On the other hand, expiration dates are used for fresh food and box lunches which are unstable in quality and are referred to the safety periods to eat. Thus, food with expiration dates should be consumed within expiration dates as soon as possible. We should understand the differences between them and be careful of food waste.