Expiration dating of repackaged medications

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Are there certain drugs that should never be used past their expiration date?

For many patients, these questions arise because medications can be expensive, and it is costly to frequently replace expired but unused medications.

The expiration date of a drug is estimated using stability testing under good manufacturing practices as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The American Medical Association (AMA) concluded in 2001 that the actual shelf life of some products is longer than the labeled expiration date.

Vaccines, biologicals or blood products could also be subject to quick degradation once the expiration date is reached.

If a patient finds a medication is powdery or crumbling, has a strong smell, or has dried up (as in the case of or ointments or creams), these drugs should be discarded.

The AMA stated the best evidence resides in the Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP) undertaken by the FDA for the Department of Defense.

Over 3000 lots, representing 122 different drug products, were assessed in the SLEP program.

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