People are receiving expired COVID-19 test kits

The FDA extended the shelf life for more than half of the approved test kits beyond their printed expiration dates
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 4:28 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2022 at 5:43 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - If you requested a COVID testing kit through the mail, chances are the one you receive might be past its expiration date. However, don’t be too quick to throw it away.

The Food and Drug Administration extended the shelf life of some at-home self-test kits after they were produced. That’s why many are still being shipped out right now by vendors rather than being tossed out.

A lot of people have been asking questions about this, including Melissa Leidl, who lives in Fox Crossing. She requested COVID test kits through a government-recommended website on September 5, but when they came in the mail last week the kits expired on June 23.

“There’s no guidelines on here that it’s good. All it says is ‘use by,’” she told us. “It was sort of like... ‘Really?’”

Liedl contacted us because she’s concerned about whether the test kits would still be accurate.

“I think if they’re expired by that much they should have just been dumped,” she said, “because who even in the labs know if this is going to work or not for sure? There’s enough false negatives and false positives with this type of test anyway.”

An FDA website lists 22 approved at-home test kits. Thirteen had their shelf life extended. Depending on the product and the lot number, extensions ranged from 27 days to 12 months.

Most kits shipped from the federal government are from iHealth, like the kits Leidl received. The shelf life of those tests was extended 6 months beyond the printed expiration date.

Matt Mabie, owner of Forward Pharmacy, explained, “When they made them they didn’t know the stability, and we kind of go through that even with drugs where they will put a really short expiration date on products that are brand new because they just don’t know how long it’s going to last. So through testing later on they will find out, oh, it’s still stable, so they extend the dates. The same thing has happened with vaccines.”

If you have a test kit that’s expired and want to double-check its expiration, click here for the FDA website.