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Warshaw Law Firm, advocating for the educational rights of special needs children, is dedicated to protecting the rights of children with disabilities and children who are the victims of or accused of bullying, and assisting families in crisis through mediation and collaborative divorce.

Prescription Labels-Beware

  • Julie Warshaw
  • June 28, 2017

The information contained in this Blog post is for educational purposes only and it is not meant to give legal advice or provide a legal opinion. For more information, please contact us at info@warshawlawfirm.com or at (973) 433-2121.


As 2013 is about to begin, it is important to reexamine every aspect of our lives and try to make what we can, better. As we replace batteries in our smoke detectors and test our Carbon Monoxide detectors, it is also important to check the expiration dates of our medications. In fact, do you really know when your medications expire? The fact is, many of us do not, and typically, we rely solely on the date printed on the medication labels themselves. However, although they may be accurate, in my experience, these may not be the actual expiration dates.

Several years ago I could not understand why I was feeling terrible, yet I was taking my medication. My doctor ordered some blood work and could not believe that the medication I was on was not working yet I was taking it every day. It had worked in the past so what was different this time? I began to investigate.  What I found was that typically, when pharmacists fill a prescription, they automatically fill it with a one-year expiration date from the date that the original prescription was filled. In other words, if a prescription is filled on January 1, 2012, the pharmacy typically will print on the label that the medication expires on January 1, 2013, one year from the date the prescription was originally filled. However, this is not always the case that the medication will be effective at its standard and expected strength for the entire year. I started asking questions and found out from several pharmacists that the manufacture’s bottles of medications that they receive from their distributors may have different manufactures’ expiration dates from the date that is printed on the medication labels that we, as consumers, receive.

I began to ask the pharmacists for every prescription that I had filled, for them to hand write on the medication labels the actual expiration date from the manufacture’s bottles, from which they actually dispense the medication, and they did.  I found that every single time, the manufacture’s expiration dates were different than the one-year expiration date printed on the medication labels.  On a few occasions, the actual manufacture’s expiration dates were after the one-year printed date but the majority of the time, the manufacturer’s actual expiration date of the medications was within the one-year timeframe. This meant that after that actual expiration date, if you were still taking the medication based on the one-year printed expiration date listed on the label, you could be taking expired medication.

In addition, I also noticed that with some medications that come in a box with separate foil wrapped packages inside, the pharmacy label on the exterior box with the one-year printed expiration date, also did not match the expiration or “best if used by” dates on the actual foil wrapped packages contained inside the box.  That is exactly what happened to me.  I had been relying solely on the one-year printed expiration date printed on the medication labels. However, as medication expires, some lose their strength and effectiveness and therefore do not work the way they are intended and depending upon the circumstances and the type of medication, that could pose a health risk to some people.

I am sure you are asking, why is this attorney discussing expiration dates on medications? Well, the answer is simple. I have children of my own and I represent children with special needs. Often times my clients’ children are on medications and many of us would not think to question the expiration dates on the medications we obtain for ourselves and our children. An expiration date seems very basic and not something to question. However, I have come to learn through experience that it is as critical as opening up the medication bottles at the pharmacy and examining the actual medication being distributed to you. Mistakes can happen and they do but being alert to these potential issues can protect you and your family from risk of harm.  I wish everyone a safe, healthy, and happy New Year. Please feel free to comment on this or any other posts. If you need any further information, please contact us at info@warshawlawfirm.com or (973) 433-2121.

Article Name
Prescription Labels-Beware
Often times my clients’ children are on medications and many of us would not think to question the expiration dates on the medications we obtain for ourselves and our children.
Publisher Name
Warshaw Law Firm, LLC
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