Storage of veterinary medicines

Storage of veterinary medicines

Policy type: Policy
Status: Current
Manual reference: 2a
Date ratified: 17 September 2015

Veterinary medicines must be stored according to product label instructions and other legal requirements.


  1. The label recommends optimum storage conditions. If these conditions are met, the product will retain acceptable quality until the stated expiry date. Additional information may be given in package inserts and data sheets. The shelf life of animal remedies is dependent on storage under correct conditions.
  2. In the case of some controlled drugs additional storage requirements are imposed by legislation and in the VCNZ Code of Professional Conduct, for reasons of security.
  3. The storage of all controlled drugs (including those classified C5 in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 under Schedule 3 Part 5) must comply with Section 28 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (1977). Section 28 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (1977) requires veterinarians to keep all of those drugs in Classes A, B and Parts 1 to 4 of Class C in locked cupboards or in locked compartments that are constructed of either metal or concrete or both. In addition the VCNZ Code of Professional Conduct requires controlled drugs in Class C Parts 5 to 7 to also be kept in locked cabinets or compartments that comply with Section 28 also. Where the cupboard or compartment is installed in a building constructed after 1997 the cupboard or compartment must be of an approved type. The cupboard or compartment must be fixed to, or part of, the building. The key to the cupboard or compartment must be kept in a safe place when the key is not being used and not left in the unattended building unless there is an approved combination lock fitted.


  1. Vaccines should be stored at 2-8oC unless otherwise stated. Some require storage in deep freeze.
  2. In the absence of specific instructions, products should be stored in cool, dry and dark conditions.
  3. The requirements of the Health and Safety in Employment Act, 1992, must be met.
  4. Hazardous substances should be kept out of reach of children. Controls imposed under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (1996) must be understood and implemented.
  5. All information on labels must remain legible and must not be obscured e.g. by promotional or sales information, or practice labelling attached to dispensed products. Information presented on the label should not be changed in any way.
  6. Restricted veterinary medicines (RVMs), human medicines and products compounded by the veterinarian, must not be displayed for general sale. These can only be dispensed following a veterinary consultation or on veterinary authorisation.
  7. Particular care must be taken with multidose vials. Sterility should be maintained by using aseptic procedures to withdraw product. Needles should not be left penetrating the bung. Veterinarians should ensure the medication has been used within the broach claim period specified on the label.
  8. Expired stock should be destroyed or referred to the registrant for possible revalidation. In the latter case, the registrant may be able to extend the expiry date, but only if all storage conditions have previously been met. Stock should be rotated to ensure use before expiry.
  9. Staff should be trained in correct storage and handling of veterinary and prescription medicines. Regular updates should be provided as new products are introduced. Staff should be encouraged to read product educational material and to attend product information presentations.
  10. Special attention should be given to drugs carried in vehicles, as these can be exposed to wide variations of temperature, light and dust. Controlled drugs carried in vehicles should be in a locked compartment and out of sight. A locked glove box is deemed to be suitable or a lockable metal container or safe bolted to the vehicle. The key to the cabinet shall not be kept in the vehicle when it is unattended. The vehicle must be reasonably secured against unlawful entry when unattended. The veterinarian should carry only the smallest quantity of the controlled drug that is required.


Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977

ACVM Act 1997