FDA Medical Device Shelf Life

FDA Medical device shelf life is the length of time you can expect a product to look and act as expected and to stay safe for use. This length of time varies, depending on the type of product, how it is used, and how it is stored. Medical devices containing highly sophisticated electronics that are lasting longer than before, raising the bar for safety and liability. The concept of shelf life (expiration) date was created to help consumers realize when a product should be discarded.

Expiration date states the termination of medical device shelf life. After this date, it may no longer function as meant to. There are different parameters that must be considered to determine the shelf-life and expiration date of the medical device.

Implantable medical devices containing highly complicated electronics and they are lasting longer than before, so this is raising the bar for safety and liability. The concept of an expiration date was created to help consumers realize when a product should be discarded.

Within the shelf life of medical devices the product will remain safe and retain the desired sensory, chemical, physical, and microbiological characteristics. Understanding shelf life is essential in assuring the safety and quality of the product. There are multiple parts in a medical device and the part with lowest shelf life determines the Overall shelf life of the device. Shelf life is essential in assuring the safety and quality of the product.


There are various factors that impact the medical device shelf life of a product, and they are specific to device:

  • Chemical
  • Microbiology
  • Physical
  • Toxicity
  • Biocompatibility Testing
  • Packaging
  • Transformation
  • Sterilization and sterilizing method
  • Storage conditions

Key aspects of medical device shelf life that both healthcare professionals and manufacturers should consider.

  1. Definition and Importance of Shelf Life: Medical device shelf life refers to the period within which a device can perform its intended function and maintain its specified quality, safety, and effectiveness. This aspect is paramount to patient safety, as expired or degraded devices can potentially compromise diagnostics and treatments. Manufacturers are responsible for determining the shelf life through extensive testing and validation processes.
  2. Factors Influencing Shelf Life: Numerous factors can impact the shelf life of medical devices, including materials used, sterilization methods, packaging, and storage conditions. Different materials degrade at varied rates, and exposure to heat, humidity, light, and even chemical substances can accelerate deterioration. Manufacturers must account for these factors when establishing a device’s shelf life.
  3. Regulatory Guidelines and Compliance: Regulatory bodies like the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and similar agencies worldwide mandate strict regulations for medical device shelf life. Manufacturers must provide evidence-based data to support their specified shelf life claims. Compliance with these guidelines is critical not only for product efficacy but also to avoid legal and reputational repercussions.
  4. Testing and Validation Protocols: The process of determining a medical device’s shelf life involves extensive testing and validation. Accelerated aging studies, which subject devices to conditions that simulate real-world wear and tear over an accelerated time frame, are commonly used. These studies help manufacturers predict how the device will perform over its intended shelf life and adjust recommendations accordingly.
  5. Storage and Inventory Management: Healthcare facilities play a vital role in maintaining the integrity of medical devices by adhering to proper storage conditions and inventory management practices. Devices should be stored according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and careful monitoring of expiration dates is crucial to prevent the use of outdated products. Proper rotation and disposal of expired devices minimize risks and ensure patient safety.

FDA Medical Device Shelf Life ISO Standards

Medical devices play a critical role in healthcare, from diagnosis to treatment and patient care. Ensuring their safety, efficacy, and reliability is of paramount importance, and this extends to their shelf life – the duration during which a medical device can be stored and still perform its intended function with the same level of quality.

To maintain these standards consistently across the industry, various ISO standards have been established.

In this article, we explore the significance of medical device shelf life ISO standards and their role in ensuring patient safety and device efficacy.


ISO 11607-1 and ISO 11607-2: Packaging Standards for Terminally Sterilized Medical Devices:

ISO 11607-1 and ISO 11607-2 address packaging for terminally sterilized medical devices.

These standards emphasize the importance of packaging integrity to maintain a device’s sterility and quality throughout its shelf life. Packaging materials, design, and sealing methods are all rigorously evaluated to prevent contamination or degradation that could compromise device performance. By adhering to these standards, manufacturers ensure that medical devices remain safe and effective until their stated expiration dates.

ISO 10993-1: Biological Evaluation of Medical Devices:

ISO 10993-1 focuses on the biological evaluation of medical devices to assess their potential interactions with the human body. This standard recognizes that materials used in medical devices can degrade over time, potentially releasing harmful substances or causing adverse reactions.

Therefore, evaluating the long-term effects of these materials is crucial to determine a device’s shelf life. Manufacturers must perform comprehensive biocompatibility testing to ensure the safety of patients throughout the device’s intended shelf life.

ISO 13485: Quality Management Systems for Medical Devices:

ISO 13485 is a comprehensive standard that outlines requirements for a quality management system specific to the medical device industry. While it doesn’t directly address shelf life, ISO 13485 plays a vital role in ensuring that manufacturers establish and maintain processes that guarantee the safety and efficacy of their devices. This includes aspects such as risk management, design controls, and validation procedures that impact a device’s shelf life determination and maintenance.

ISO 22301: Business Continuity Management Systems:

ISO 22301 focuses on business continuity management systems, which indirectly influence medical device shelf life by addressing potential disruptions in the supply chain and manufacturing processes. Maintaining consistent manufacturing conditions, materials sourcing, and storage practices contributes to the stability of a device’s shelf life. Adhering to this standard helps mitigate risks that could impact device quality over time.

ISO 14971: Risk Management for Medical Devices:

ISO 14971 outlines principles for risk management specific to medical devices. Assessing risks associated with a device’s shelf life, including material degradation, packaging integrity, and potential failures, is a fundamental component of this standard. By identifying and mitigating these risks, manufacturers ensure that devices remain safe and effective for their intended duration.

There are two types of shelf life testing.

  • Real time ageing
  • Accelerated ageing

Real time ageing: This testing is conducted at ambient conditions in actual real time in order to analyze the conditions of packages and/or products and the effects that time has on them. They are also performed to confirm the results of accelerated ageing on test samples.

Accelerated ageing: In accelerated stability testing product is stored at extreme stress conditions. In this case real-time testing is being done in parallel to confirm shelf-life testing results. This testing helps manufacturer to get their products to the market faster. The Accelerated Aging process is based on the relationship of temperature and reaction rate where an increase in temperature increases the reaction rate

To support US FDA 510k  and CE Marking Requirements the shelf-life appropriate bench tests of real time ageing and Accelerated ageing should be submitted.

Share This Post!


Be our Customer like 2300+ others already benefited from Timely Delivery.

Just be with us!! Be with the most Responsible service provider.