Off label medication

Licensing

Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency logo

Every medication supplied in the UK goes through a strict process of development and monitoring to ensure it is effective and safe. Once it has passed clinical trials the drug manufacturer can apply for a licence. This licence is only for the problems that it has been used for in the trial and shown to be effective for. All medicines used in the UK must have a licence before being issued to patients. This is done by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK.

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Medicine expiry dates

Expiry date printed on a medicine pack

We are all familiar with ‘best-before’ and ‘use-by’ dates on food. Medicines are very similarly labelled.

If you look at the packet of your most recent medication, you will see stamped on it somewhere, an expiry date. But what does this expiry date really mean?

Although generally not recommended, we may sometimes choose to eat certain foods beyond their ‘best before’ date. But can we do the same with medicines?

Is it really necessary to throw away, and waste, unused medicines?

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