Daily Health Tips: What Does Expiry Date Mean?

Q: Please Dr, can I still take any drugs that will expire in two months’ time (Blood tablet)?

A: Thanks for writing in.

Very good question! This is something we all take for granted. But what does the expiry date mean? If this is referred to in another way, does it mean the same thing?

There are a couple of controversies about whether medications are completely bad when they are expired or whether they can still be taken with no problems. We will not delve into these controversies and will focus on what you should do.

The expiry date refers to a particular date beyond which the medications may not be safe to use anymore and when they may be only partially or not at all effective. These dates are usually seen on the packaging or label of the medication, usually put there by the manufacturer of the medication and goes by different nomenclatures: expiry, expires, exp, use by, use before, exp date etc

All medications should be stored properly; usually away from sunlight in a cool place. Once the expiry date is past, do not use it. If it is still within the useful date (before expiry date) but looks and/or tastes and/or smells funny/different, please discontinue use until you get this checked out by your doctor or pharmacist.

If a medication has ‘expiry date’ of July 2017, this means ‘do not take this medication beyond the last day of July, 2017’

If a medication has a ‘use by, use before or best before date’ of July, 2017, this means, ‘do not take this medication beyond the last day of June 2017′

This is also helpful when assessing the expiry dates of foods etc.

So, if your medications are due to expire in 2 months, smell, taste and/or look normal, have been stored properly, it’s probably okay to take them. Where in doubt, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

I hope this helps.

Enjoy the rest of your day, people 😀


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