Dispensing medications with "short" expiration dates

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Nov 15, 2006
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9,294
After a lengthy, detailed conversation with my local pharmacist, I was surprised and angered to see that he:
  • Dispensed/delivered an extremely expensive medication (+$2000) with a short expiration date (under 9 months).
  • Stated in writing on the receipt that he combined multiple open bottles and says they are all from the same lot and all expire on the same date
  • This "short date" is 8-12 months earlier (older) than the medications that I have been currently taking.

I realize that State laws may vary, but are there any answers to the following or recommended places to get my questions answered:

  1. If the pharmacist plans to dispense a RX with a short expiration date, does he need to notify the patient and get approval? (I would have refused and shopped at a different pharmacy or not accepted them in-person.)
  2. Can he combine multiple bottles into one and just "claim" they are all the same?

Any other information would be appreciated.
 

not2sharp

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After a lengthy, detailed conversation with my local pharmacist, I was surprised and angered to see that he:
  • Dispensed/delivered an extremely expensive medication (+$2000) with a short expiration date (under 9 months).
  • Stated in writing on the receipt that he combined multiple open bottles and says they are all from the same lot and all expire on the same date
  • This "short date" is 8-12 earlier (older) than the medications that I have been currently taking.

I realize that State laws may vary, but are there any answers to the following or recommended places to get my questions answered:

  1. If the pharmacist plans to dispense a RX with a short expiration date, does he need to notify the patient and get approval? (I would have refused and shopped at a different pharmacy or not accepted them in-person.)
  2. Can he combine multiple bottles into one and just "claim" they are all the same?

Any other information would be appreciated.

Just return them and shop elsewhere.

n2s
 
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Just return them and shop elsewhere.

n2s
This is the obvious solution, however, I want to know my legal standing as I expect them to deny the return of a dispensed medication--esp. one that has been packaged by them. This is not an unopened manufacture's bottle.
 

knarfeng

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After a lengthy, detailed conversation with my local pharmacist, I was surprised and angered to see that he:
  • Dispensed/delivered an extremely expensive medication (+$2000) with a short expiration date (under 9 months).
  • Stated in writing on the receipt that he combined multiple open bottles and says they are all from the same lot and all expire on the same date
  • This "short date" is 8-12 months earlier (older) than the medications that I have been currently taking.

I realize that State laws may vary, but are there any answers to the following or recommended places to get my questions answered:

  1. If the pharmacist plans to dispense a RX with a short expiration date, does he need to notify the patient and get approval? (I would have refused and shopped at a different pharmacy or not accepted them in-person.)
  2. Can he combine multiple bottles into one and just "claim" they are all the same?

Any other information would be appreciated.

I do not know the legal pharmaceutical answers. I can comment on the equivalent aerospace answers. We are required to track batches and expiration dates for chemicals used to build aircraft. (paints, sealants, lubricants, processing chemicals). Note the use of "should" vs "is" in my responses below.
  • If your rate of consumption of the medicine as stated on the label is such that you will finish consuming it before the expiration date, the druggist should be within the legal requirements.
  • Unless each individual container is numbered, lot number is the ID by which the material is tracked I can't comment on what is done with master bottles of pharmaceuticals, but for every medicine recall I've seen, they are recalled by lot number, just as in other industries. So as long as they are all the same lot, they would be deemed equivalent.
 
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I do not know the legal pharmaceutical answers. I can comment on the equivalent aerospace answers. We are required to track batches and expiration dates for chemicals used to build aircraft. (paints, sealants, lubricants, processing chemicals). Note the use of "should" vs "is" in my responses below.
  • If your rate of consumption of the medicine as stated on the label is such that you will finish consuming it before the expiration date, the druggist should be within the legal requirements.
  • Unless each individual container is numbered, lot number is the ID by which the material is tracked I can't comment on what is done with master bottles of pharmaceuticals, but for every medicine recall I've seen, they are recalled by lot number, just as in other industries. So as long as they are all the same lot, they would be deemed equivalent.
I agree that those seem like logical responses. My exact discussion is that he should not assume any consumption pattern as the doctors raise, lower, stop, re-start, and titrate the medications.

I wonder how many people would have read or could see the actual (short) date in 6pt font and how many would assume that their RX had at least one year, or more, before expiration. This seems like something that the pharmacist would need to mention to the patient.

I have caught them combining disparate dates and lots into one bottle, they admitted the error, and I thought that this issue had been resolved.

When they combine "multiple bottles" as he states on the receipt, I don't know what to think. Previously, I asked that the medication be dispensed in the manufacture's bottle. If there were "overflow," that this be put in a separate container with a scan of the lot/exp date for that medication.
 

brownshoe

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As long as you use it up before the expiration date there is no problem. It’s the same lot, I don’t believe there is a need to come from the same bottle.
 
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As long as you use it up before the expiration date there is no problem. It’s the same lot, I don’t believe there is a need to come from the same bottle.
Yup. That's my point. Why is it up to a pharmacist when/how I utilize my medication (if my doctor changes his instructions) and by what date or how much inventory I keep which varies by my doctor's instructions. I pay a premium, I pay a co-pay, and I want to get my money's worth.

BTW, when they DO dispense in the original bottle, it can expire 2-6 years LATER than they print on the pharmacy bottle. Who benefits if I am forced to discard unused medication that may be good for another few years? It's all about control and money. We all spend more, they sell more, and they don't care one whit about my budget or health. What kind of product and customer service is this? Piss poor. (Why be penalized for ordering early so as not to get into a bind waiting for shipments and delivery, esp. during COVID.) It's no skin off their nose--

Now I want to know the law and my rights.
 
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Hello Ann, if you really want to know your rights you need to contact a Advocate/Lawyer in your State that deals with this issue......I’m not qualified to speak about your particular medicine. I do know from my own limited research is most Meds are good for at least a year or two after the date. Many much longer & while they may diminish in potency , they don’t turn to poison .Never store in a bathroom, the moisture, never store in direct light. Good luck!
 
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Hello Ann, if you really want to know your rights you need to contact a Advocate/Lawyer in your State that deals with this issue......I’m not qualified to speak about your particular medicine. I do know from my own limited research is most Meds are good for at least a year or two after the date. Many much longer & while they may diminish in potency , they don’t turn to poison .Never store in a bathroom, the moisture, never store in direct light. Good luck!
Thanks. Yes, I store appropriately.

I keep redefining obtuse downward, now to include this pharmacist to whom I explained my situation in detail. It's difficult to contact people over the 3-day weekend, but I'm contacting the State Board of Pharmacists, State Board of Heath, some consumer groups. I really don't want to discuss it further with this pharmacist if he thinks this was the correct solution to my situation: dispensing medication that is nearly one year older than the last refill. He had to TRY HARD to do that.
 
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I heard from the Dept Public Health:
  • Prescriptions filled with drugs with an expiration date of less than one year must indicate that expiration date on the label.
  • I recommend you speak with the pharmacist at the store.
  • There are no regulations preventing a pharmacy from mixing different lots.
  • There is no legal requirement for lot numbers to be on the label no matter how many lots are used.
  • Concerns regarding expiration date and lot number law changes should be addressed to your state representative:
This does not set well with me that the consumer has no say or protection from short expiration dates and mixed lots, unless perhaps if they go to the pharmacy and personally inspect each item.

A family member looked at the med he just refilled, and he will barely be able to use it in time if he starts it immediately.

This may not be an issue for everyone or every condition, but mine is consequential. Also, I do not appreciate being told what is OK (when and how soon I will utilize a medication), what is proper and what isn’t by pharmacists and State employees who know nothing about my case or heath history.

I spoke with the pharmacist and ultimately told him that I thought it was sleazy for him not to notify me before he billed me/my insurance company-- knowing that he would NOT be selling me what we discussed and I would be stuck with whatever he sent.

Evidently, these meds were flown in from out of State. They were REsealed in bottles prior to shipping. This was supposed to inspire confidence?

There is no other product with such high impact (I can think of) where one is at the mercy of so many others (doctors, pharmacy, insurance), pays so much, and has NO protection, say, or recourse in what is delivered under the law.

In case any of you has a sensitive medication and you don't read the expiration date, please don't assume it is 1 year from date of fill. I got the impression there is no minimum expiration date if the pharmacist deems that you have time to consume it before it expires.
 
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