Exclusive: Expired Medicine Found At Over A Dozen Veterinarian Clinics

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Could the medicine you buy from your veterinarian do more harm than good?

State inspectors found expired medicine in more than a dozen clinics. For some of the clinics, this was not their first violation.

Barbara Anthony, Under Secretary of Consumer Affairs, is upset.

Her job is to look out for consumers in Massachusetts, and this includes their pets.

WBZ-TV’s Karen Anderson reports

Her state inspectors went out to check veterinarian offices, and found 20% of the locations they visited had expired medications. One also wasn’t storing its drugs properly.

She says, “I felt this is a dangerous situation. We want to make sure veterinary practices throughout the state are doing what they are supposed to do for storing medications and to make sure expired medications are not being administered to someone’s pet.”

Seekonk Veterinary Hospital in Great Barrington was cited for a third violation of expired meds. Swan Corner Animal Hospital in Tyngsborough and Hillside Veterinary Clinic in Auburn were cited for a second violation.

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Veterinarians say drugs that have expired are not as effective as other drugs.

The owner of Seekonk Veterinary Hospital Ronald Majdalany says, “They just found one or two items that were slightly expired. I do my best to keep on top of it.”

The owner of Swan Corner Animal Hospital says he has been dealing with his own health problems, and they have made systematic changes.

Anthony says they will be staying vigilant, and doing more tests. “I’m glad we did this so we can help correct the market in this instance.”

Full list of violations:

  • Hillside Veterinary Clinic – Auburn – 2nd Violation: Expired Meds – $500
  • Brewster Veterinary Hospital – Brewster – 1st Violation: Expired Meds – $100
  • Sturbridge Veterinary Hospital – Charlton – 1st Violation: Unsecured and Expired Meds – $200
  • Countryside Veterinary Hospital – Chelmsford – 1st Violation: Expired Meds – $100
  • Dennis Veterinary Hospital – Dennis – 1st Violation: Expired Meds – $100
  • Sandwich Animal Hospital – East Sandwich – 1st Violation: Expired Meds – $100
  • Seekonk Veterinary Hospital – Great Barrington – 3rd Violation: Expired Meds – $1,000
  • Lexington-Bedford Veterinary Hospital – Lexington – 1st Violation: Expired Meds – $100
  • Leach Animal Hospital – Mashpee – 1st Violation: Expired Meds – $100
  • Canton Veterinary Hospital – Milton – 1st Violation: Expired Meds – $100
  • VCA Palmer Animal Hospital – Palmer – 1st Violation: Expired Meds – $100
  • Cat Clinic of Plymouth – Plymouth – 1st Violation: Expired Meds – $100
  • Compassionate Care Veterinary Center – Randolph – 1st Violation: Expired Meds – $100
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  • David Carser

    For the record, expired medicines are not “dangerous” and cannot “do more harm than good”. It is a fallacy that medicines are good up to the day of expiry, and then somehow become toxic or harmful to the patient the day after they expire. The fact is that medicines start to slowly lose their effect from the moment they are manufactured. The expiry date is simply an educated conservative guess by the manufacturer as to when the medicine will reach an unacceptable level of effectiveness. There are facots that could lead to the deteroiration of the medicine long before the expiry date. On the other hnad, many medicines have aceptable levels of effectivity long after the expiry date.

    This is not in any way a condonation of the use of expired medicines. It is simply to inform you that there is more to this subject than meets the eye and that the hysteria about expired medicines has no solid basis in science.

    Dr David Carser
    President: Veterinary Defence Association.

  • Cathy

    There is also a difference between medication that is sitting on the shelf and medication that is administered. I would expect that if a medication is seldom used, the vet staff may not notice an expired expiry date. What I would expect, and hope, is that quarterly, or similar regular interval, expiry dates are checked and stock rotated, and when dispensing, expiry dates are checked.

  • Rod

    It is not complicated. My wife is in charge of inventories. She works part time at her employer’s cliniic, two days a week. She uses a spread sheet to keep tabs on all products. The clinic is holistic, so it has a lot more inventory than a typical allopathiic vet clinic does. One column on the spread sheet is the expiration date for each product, and she reviews that column each day she is there.

  • Rod

    Excerpts from “DO MEDICATIONS REALLY EXPIRE?” By Richard Altschuler, http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/460159 : “First, the expiration date, required by law in the United States, beginning in 1979, specifies only the date the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of the drug — it does not mean how long the drug is actually ‘good’ or safe to use. Second, medical authorities uniformly say it is safe to take drugs past their expiration date — no matter how “expired” the drugs purportedly are. … One of the largest studies ever conducted that supports the above points about “expired drug” labeling was done by the US military 15 years ago … The testing, conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ultimately covered more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter. The results showed that about 90% of them were safe and effective as far as 15 years past their original expiration date. In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, said he concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. Mr. Flaherty noted that a drug maker is required to prove only that a drug is still good on whatever expiration date the company chooses to set. The expiration date doesn’t mean, or even suggest, that the drug will stop being effective after that, nor that it will become harmful. ‘Manufacturers put expiration dates on for marketing, rather than scientific, reasons,’ said Mr. Flaherty, a pharmacist at the FDA until his retirement in 1999. ‘It’s not profitable for them to have products on a shelf for 10 years. They want turnover.'”

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