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However for OTC drugs without dosage limitations (e.g., antiperspirants, antidandruff shampoos, toothpastes, sunscreens, etc.), OTC drug regulations (21 CFR 211.137) do not require an expiration date provided that these products have demonstrated at least 3 years of stability.
In Europe, cosmetic products with a lifespan longer than 30 months must show a "period after opening" (POA) time.
The date after which a consumable product such as food or medicine should not be used because it may be spoiled, damaged or ineffective.
Expiration dates are especially important in the case of medications, since the expiration date provides the only indication about whether the product can still be safely used, unlike food items where there is often visible indication that its “best by” date has passed.
Expired medicines can be rendered less effective or made more risky due to a change in chemical composition.
Since chemical compounds may have decreased potency over a period of time, it is important to adhere to expiry dates.
The extended expiration date is based on stability data for the medication that has been reviewed by the FDA.
Expired medication should be disposed of in a proper manner, rather than being dumped straight in the trash.
A symbol of an open cream jar is usually used instead of words and the time in months can be inside the symbol or alongside it. In Europe, any cosmetic product that has a lifespan of less than 30 months must show a "Best before the end of" date.
As using expired medical products is risky and may be harmful to health, the FDA mandated specifying expiration dates on all prescription and over-the-counter medicines in the late 1970s.
Also called “expiry date.” Expiration dates for medicines are often marked “EXP” and can be found printed on the label or stamped on to the medicine bottle or carton.
Once the original container is opened, either by the patient or the health care provider who will dispense the drug, that original expiration date on the container can no longer be relied upon.
At the pharmacy, "beyond-use" dates are often put on the prescription bottle label given to the patient.
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However, manufacturers have the responsibility to determine shelf life for products as part of their responsibility to substantiate product safety.