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Understanding Medication Expiration Date Formats

Welcome back to the Corner. In this issue, we will go over some of the revisions set forth from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), regarding how expiration dates will appear on product labels. The USP is an organization that was created over 200 years ago. The goal of the USP is to set forth standards that apply to medications, supplements, and foods regarding quality and safety.

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IN 2020, THE USP PUBLISHED NEW REQUIREMENTS REGARDING FORMATTING OF MEDICATION EXPIRATION DATES ON LABELS. WHILE THE NEW REQUIREMENTS DO NOT FULLY GO INTO EFFECT UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, 2023, SOME COMPANIES ARE ALREADY MOVING TOWARD THE NEW FORMAT.

Historically, manufacturers could use a variety of abbreviates for months, dates, and years that could cause confusion. Using 2-letter abbreviations for the month (e.g., JN; January or June, MA; March or May) could be misinterpreted. Similarly, using 2-digit numeric values for month, dates, or years could cause confusion as to which was being represented by the numbers.

The new regulations set forth that expiration dates should appear as “year-month-day” or “year/month/day”, where the year is in a 4-digit format (e.g., 2021), a 2-digit or 3-letter month (e.g., 04 or APR), and a 2-digit day (e.g., 05). This should alleviate any confusion and promote consistency amongst products that are regulated by the USP. It is important to remember that specifying the day is still an option and not required under these new regulations. In situations where the day is not listed, it assumes that the product will expire on the last day of the month listed. Remember, these regulations do not fully go into effect until September 2023, so until that time, you will continue to see a mix of old and new expiration date formats.

Thanks again for stopping by the Corner.

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