Flu vaccine stockpile destruction spotlights expiration dates

After recent flu vaccine stockpile eliminations, manufacturers and consumers alike have renewed their focus on the importance of drug expirations. In 1985, the U.S. Air Force began a testing program with the FDA to determine if drug supplies remained potent and safe past the published date.

It turns out they often do, says Pharmacy Tech School Sacramento. And under a shelf-life extension program, military personnel continue to use medications beyond the manufacturer-specified expiration date.

It's not just the military. Facing a shortage of liquid Tamiflu for children last October, pharmacists began compounding the contents of expired tablets with cherry syrup. And with the CDC's blessing, some states received out-of-date solid oral dosage form of the medication, to augment on-hand supplies. The FDA concurred that the medication was safe and effective.

"There is little proof that a drug taken past its expire date has lost its potency or is harmful, according to the article. Evidence suggests that drugmakers determine the dates conservatively. "The expiration date does not indicate that a drug will be ineffective or harmful after that date, but rather that said drug is still good on the manufacturer's chosen date."

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