Environmental Protection Agency

Save BIG on Medicaid, Medicare, and FEHB Drug Costs

Why are pharmacies labeling medications with their own expiration dates for prescription medications rather than using the expiration dates set by the manufacturer? Not standardizing the expiration dates increases the risk of setting expiration dates that are before or after the manufacturers. I have personally seen many instances where pharmacy's expiration dates are six months to a year BEFORE the manufacturer's expiration date.


When medications are dispensed, they are often supposed to be used well before the expiration date. However, there are many medications that are dispensed that result in unused medication. Often times, individuals will dispose of these medications after they see that the medication has expired.


The government could slow the cost of healthcare if we require pharmacies to dispense medications with an expiration date that is consistent with the manufacturer's expiration date. If we are using the appropriate expiration dates for medications, it increases the chances that the medication will be fully used before it is really expired. In addition to slowing the consumption, it would also slow the disposal of prescription medications that can seap into the environment.


I have not seen an instance where the pharmacy's expiration date is AFTER the manufacturer's. But it seems to me that there is an elevated risk of this happening in the current system. Having a standard practice of establishing medication expiration dates could possibly reduce the risk of medical errors that could result from patients using medications that may actually be expired.


A recent report came out saying that, very soon, the government will be paying for half of the nation's healthcare costs. Between Medicaid, Medicare, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, it is not surprising to see this news. The change I propose is one technique that could substantially slow the costs that both the government and individuals pay for prescription drugs.



Idea No. 15730