Q: When I picked up a prescription from the pharmacy, the pharmacy label had a “use before” date of 09/04/10. The manufacturer’s label, under the pharmacy label, had an “expiration” date of Dec 2012. Why is this?
A: It is more convenient for the pharmacist to put a one-year computer-generated “use by” date on the prescription label than to hunt for the manufacturer’s specific expiration date. In some states, the pharmacist is legally required to display a one-year use-by date.
As you discovered, this does not represent a true expiration date. If you request this information when you submit your prescription, the pharmacist could take a little extra time and provide it for you.
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.