Use and Expiration of Medical Materials (IACUC)

Last updated on May 8, 2023 9 min read Use and Expiration of Medical Materials (IACUC)


Boston University (BU) is committed to observing Federal policies and regulations and the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International standards for the humane care and use of animals. The intent of this policy is to describe the process for reviewing reported concerns or non-compliance related to the care and use of live vertebrate animals at BU.

Covered Parties

This policy is applicable to all persons responsible for conducting research, teaching, training, breeding, and related activities, hereinafter referred to collectively as “activities”, involving live vertebrate animals conducted at or under the auspices of Boston University.

University Policy

Most medical materials (e.g., drugs, fluids, disinfectant solutions, catheters, sutures, etc.) are imprinted with an expiration date. Beyond this date, the manufacturer does not guarantee the sterility, safety, or stability of the item. The use of expired materials in live animals without justification constitutes inadequate veterinary care. If scientific justification is provided, expired drugs (other than anesthetic, analgesic, and emergency drugs, which must be used before expiration per The Guide) may be used for non-survival procedures. Pain-relieving drugs may lose potency after the expiration date, resulting in unpredictable effects that can jeopardize humane animal use even in a non-survival setting.

Expired Materials

Drugs and medical materials administered to live vertebrate animals during survival procedures must be used within their expiration date (see applicable regulations below and note that Boston University policy covers all live vertebrate animals). This includes fluids (such as saline and Heparin) and materials (such as sutures). Therefore, please adhere to the following policy:

  1.  Expired anesthetic, analgesic, or emergency drugs cannot be used in live animals under any circumstances.
  2. Other expired drugs or medical supplies cannot be used for any survival procedures, but can be used for non-survival procedures in cases where their use would not compromise the experiment. Scientific justification for their use must be approved by the IACUC.
  3. All drugs and sterile medical supplies must be marked with an expiration date in accordance with the following guidelines for expiration dating of medical materials.

Take the time to examine your inventory and discard any outdated items. Please be aware that the animal facility staff has been instructed to dispose of any and all materials housed within the animal facility that are beyond their expiration date.

Practical Guidelines

In cases where you reconstitute or aliquot drugs so that they are no longer in bottles marked with a manufacturers’ expiration date, please make sure to write the expiration date on each new bottle aliquoted from stock. Please check for manufacturers’ instructions regarding expiration after reconstitution or first puncture.

Expired drugs kept for in vitro use must be kept together in an area physically separate from all other medical materials and drugs that are used in live animals and must be marked with the expiration date.

When ordering drugs or materials that you don’t use up quickly, it is wise to inquire at the time of ordering about the expiration date of the lot that the company plans to send you, and make sure they don’t send old items that will be expiring soon. Alternatively, order in smaller amounts. Many drugs and solutions have a shelf life of at least two years, but there are exceptions.

Responsible Parties

Principal Investigators are responsible for: preparing and submitting applications; making modifications in applications in order secure IACUC approval; ensuring adherence to approved protocols; ensuring that all personnel have completed required training; and reporting any adverse events to the IACUC.

The Animal Welfare Program and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee are responsible for overseeing implementation of and ensuring compliance with this policy.

The Attending Veterinarian has been delegated authority to implement BU’s veterinary care program, and to oversee the adequacy of all other aspects of animal care and use.

Animal Welfare Act

Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, Eighth Edition

  1. DenHerder, J. M., Reed, R. L., Sargent, J. L., Bobe, G., Stevens, J. F., & Diggs, H. E. (2017). Effects of time and storage conditions on the chemical and microbiologic stability of diluted buprenorphine for injection. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science: JAALAS, 56(4), 457-461.

  2. Kawano, H. K., Simonek, G. D., Moffitt, A. D., Tahara, J. M., & Brignolo, L. L. (2019). Sterility and stability of diluted meloxicam in compounded multi-dose vial after 365 Days. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science: JAALAS, 58(5), 594-596.

  3. Matthews, K. A., & Taylor, D. K. (2011). Assessment of sterility in fluid bags maintained for chronic use. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science: JAALAS, 50(5), 708–712.

  4. Taylor, B. J., Orr, S. A., Chapman, J. L., & Fisher, D. E. (2009). Beyond-use dating of extemporaneously compounded ketamine, acepromazine, and xylazine: safety, stability, and efficacy over time. Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science: JAALAS, 48(6), 718-726.

  5. Xu, J. J., Renner, D. M., & Lester, P. A. (2021). Strength and sterility of stock and diluted carprofen over time. Journal of the American Association Laboratory Animal Science: JAALAS, 60(4), 470-474.


Effective Date: 01/04/2022
Next Review Date: 01/03/2025
First Approved: 10/XX/2008 as “Conditional Use of Expired Medical Materials”
Revised: 01/08/2019, 01/28/2014

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