Policy Number: 2017-060-v

Policy Title: Use of Expired Substances in Animals

Purpose: The UW-Madison animal care and use program follows USDA Animal Care Policy #3 regarding the use of expired drugs and medical materials in all vertebrate animals used for research, teaching, and outreach activities:

“The use of expired medical materials (e.g., drugs, fluids, sutures, anesthetics, sedatives, or analgesics during any survival procedure…is not considered acceptable veterinary practice and therefore not consistent with adequate veterinary care as required by the regulations promulgated under the Animal Welfare Act.”


  • Expired medical materials may not be used for survival procedures on any live vertebrate animals used for research, teaching, or outreach activities, regardless of species.
  • Expired drugs may not be used on any live animal except as defined below for acute terminal procedures.
  • Expired medical materials and drugs, with the exception of anesthetics, analgesics, euthanasia solutions, and rescue drugs (e.g. drugs to maintain anesthesia), may be used in acute terminal procedures. These items must be labeled “for terminal use only” and physically segregated from in-date items.
  • Expired anesthetics, analgesics, euthanasia solutions and rescue drugs may NEVER be used on any live vertebrate animal, even if the procedure is terminal.
  • Expired drugs and medical materials should be removed from animal use and supply storage areas on or before their expiration date, or labeled “EXPIRED”, “NOT FOR USE IN ANIMALS” or “FOR TERMINAL USE ONLY” as applicable, and physically segregated from in-date materials. The presence of unsegregated and unlabeled expired items in the same area as in-date items constitutes noncompliance with this policy.


Drug: A substance used as a medication, including controlled substances (not including food).

Medical materials: Items other than drugs used clinically or for research purposes that may have an expiration date assigned by the vendor or researcher for the purpose of guaranteeing sterility.

Acute terminal procedure: A procedure, surgical or non-surgical, for which an animal receives an anesthetic agent and is euthanized within 12 hours without recovering from anesthesia.

Survival procedure: A procedure, surgical or non-surgical, performed on an animal that is subsequently allowed to recover from anesthesia.


Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 2011, p. 12
USDA Animal Care Policy Manual, Policy 3, Subject: Expired Medical Materials, issued 10/1/17
AMVA Guidelines for Veterinary Prescription Drugs (https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Guidelines-for-Veterinary-Prescription-Drugs.aspx)



Author: J. Welter

ePublication Date: 2/3/2017 (orig.); Reviewed, no changes 9/2017; Updated 2/2018