Complaints after patients given medicines with two different expiry dates

Complainants in Tonga said they discovered two expiry dates on medicines given to them by Universal Pharmacy in Fanga.

One expiry date appeared to be the original and it showed one medicine was expired more than a year ago while another date showed the pills can still be used.

A pack of Nasal Decongester has a sticker on it with an expiry date written as Exp 05/2017.

The sticker was removed and another expiry date appeared on the pack as Exp: 05/16.

Kaniva News has seen photos purported to show the medication from the Pharmacy with the controversial expiry dates.

Attempts to contact Universal Pharmacy were unsuccessful. However,  Tonga’s Minister of Health Hon. Saia Piukala said he had spoken with the Pharmacy and they were aware of the complaints.

Hon Piukala said medicines can be used past their expiration dates even if they were expired two years before. 

He said Universal ordered the medicines from New Zealand’s “Multi Chem and the label was done from there after evaluating the products that it was still OK”. It was Chem that “did the label”, the minister said.

He said countries like New Zealand had the “capacity” to assess  expired medicines to determine whether or not they can still be used.

He said the Pharmacy will clear and clarify the issue to the public.

Medicines expiry date

A report published by CNN website in 2012 revealed a laboratory analysis of eight prescription drugs that expired between 28 and 40 years ago.

The drugs included 14 different active ingredients, including aspirin, codeine and hydrocodone.

“In 86% of cases, the study found, the amount of active ingredient present in the drugs was at least 90% of the amount indicated on the label”.

The findings suggest that the expiration dates of some drugs could be safely extended.

“Perhaps expiration dating of medications needs to be revisited”.

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