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If this is your first visit, welcome! This site is devoted to my life experiences as a Filipino-American who immigrated from the Philippines to the United States in 1960. I came to the US as a graduate student when I was 26 years old. I am now in my early-80's and thanks God for his blessings, I have four successful and professional children and six grandchildren here in the US. My wife and I had been enjoying the snow bird lifestyle between US and Philippines after my retirement from USFDA in 2002. Please do not forget to read the latest national and International News in this site . I have also posted some of my favorite Filipino and American dishes and recipes in this site. Some of the photos and videos in this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on infringing on your copyrights. Cheers!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Drug Expiration Dates and Drug's Efficacy

I have always wanted to write an article in one of my blogs about drug expiration dates for the information of all our MI, Inc missioners as well as to the thousands of patients in Marinduque. The e-mail below of Dr Sulit( One of the Founders of MI, Inc) to Anne Miles (President, MI, Inc-2010) attracted my attention and the following is my response.

Let me emphasized that almost 99% of the drugs we distribute for free during the past seven medical missions in Marinduque are within their expiration dates. My guess is that only 1% that we gave may have expired from 1 to 6 months past the expiration date. These drugs are still good and effected as explained in the e-mail below:

"Dear Annie,
Attached are two of many articles about drug expiration dates
which pharmaceutical companies are required to put on the labels of
medicines which they manufacture. The expiration dates do not mean
that the "expired drugs" immediately become ineffective and harmful
after the expiration dates. Unfortunately, medicines which have
passed that date are perceived as ineffective and harmful and create
an alarming concern among practitioners and the patients. These
articles should help clarify that some expired medicines which were
among the left over drugs from the recent medical mission which
were donated to the Marinduque health system are still good and
safe to dispense to the patients. I thought that it is good to share
these information with other people so that they are also informed in
case that the question is brought up to them, I hope that the 2
attached articles get to you with the letter".
Warm regards,

As a former FDA employee ( I was Chemistry Team Leader), one of my major responsibilities is to approve expiration dating of all new drugs submitted for approval in the Division Of Anti-Infective Drugs.

In general, tablets and capsules are still good and effective from 1 to 3 years after expiration when stored at room temperature. I have approved an anti-malarial tablet that was stable for 10 years. The stability of the drug is dependent on several factors, three of the important factors are storage temperature, packaging.
and its formulation.

In general, suspensions and syrups, will still be good 1 to 6 months after expiration. Most of these drugs have short expiration dates perhaps not more than 18 months or less.

Educating the general public and our missioners regarding drug expiration dating should be MI, Inc primary goal during our medical mission.

I remember an incident during our mission in Buenavista last February. Macrine and I were working in the pharmacy section one afternoon. Macrine gave a bottle of tablets to an elderly patient. The woman looked at the bottle and she saw that expiration date was December, 2010. She wanted to return it, but I interjected that the tablets are still good. She took the drug back with an attitude that we were giving her a "Poison".

This attitude is not an isolated case. The general public believes that once the drug has past its expiration date, it is no longer good and must be discarded immediately. My rule of thumb is: For capsules and tablets-one year after expiration is still good. For suspensions and syrups, 6 months after expiration should still be OK.

Do you find this article informative. I will appreciate your feedback soon. Cheers!


Anonymous said...

Normally medicines are prescribed by doctors when patients are ill to help them get cured. Some medicines are provided for preventive measures. I am not aware of your agenda in providing free medicines on your medical missions unless these are for the patients' future use. In that case, the medicines might be past their expiration dates.

In your future missions, you may consider having pharmacist volunteers. If none is available, someone should step up and act as one to explain the medicines being dispensed. The volunteer should inform the patients about the dosage and frequency of use, when to stop the use, the purpose and side effects of the drug, its expiration, proper disposal and to answer any questions regarding the meds.

May you have more productive missions.

Raul Gonzalez

David B Katague said...

Hi Raul. I do appreciate your comments and feedback. We do have a few pharmacist volunteers, but what the patients are concerned is mainly the expiration dating. They believe that once the drug is past its expiration dating, it is no longer effective and safe and must be discarded immediately. Not indeed true. Cheers!

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