There are a variety of ways medicine, drugs, and other pharmaceuticals can be damaged by extreme temperatures, light, air, or moisture. With regards to storing medicine, even some things that may seem harmless come with risk and could render the products useless or even dangerous.
Here are some of the Dos and Don'ts of Medicine Temperature Storage:
DO inquire with your pharmacist to see if they have an emergency generator to preserve temperature control for medications that are refrigerated.
DON’T leave medications in your vehicle for extended periods of time. Utilize proper storage or bring them with you.
DO make sure you are aware of temperature recommendations by reading storage information for any personal medications you take.
DON’T leave your medications in your checked luggage when you're traveling. Keep them in your carry on instead! Make sure you travel with your medicines in their original pharmacy labeled containers and your security and customs check-in will be more efficient.
DO use temperature controlled packages for any your mail order prescriptions. Utilize overnight or next day shipping for any internet pharmacies shipping to you. Schedule orders to arrive when you are available to accept them.
DON’T store medications in your unsafe locations where heat and moisture can reach them. Common areas such as bathroom medicine cabinets, and kitchen cabinets are not advisable locations. Safer areas, such as your closet, dresser drawer, a storage box, or a shelf are recommended.
DO make sure you carry a copy of the prescription and store your medication in the original labelled container when packing for a trip. In case of emergency this will assist you in avoiding any problems at international checkpoints as well as to facilitate drug identification.
DON’T combine medications into one container in an attempt to save extra space when traveling. Always carry-on your medications with you when flying. If you are expecting extended travel in hot or humid environments, consider placing silica packs in medication vials.
For the security of your health and the people you're with, being thorough about storing your medication safely and appropriately will help ensure that you get the most out of your medication.
Common Misconceptions about Medication
Storing and transporting temperature sensitive pharmaceuticals is extremely important. Over 70% of medications require temperature-controlled shipping and storage. While much of the information around this has to do with cold-chain medications (2°C – 8°C), all pharmaceuticals have temperatures limits. When medications are exposed to temperatures outside of their desired range, they can be rendered totally useless – or worse, harmful – to the end-user. So, it is critical that the environment of these medicines be controlled throughout the supply chain.
There are many common misconceptions around this. For example, if a solution works for one product many think that it will work for others. The truth is that there is no “one size fits all” approach. Every medication is unique and has specific guidelines for it to remain effective. It is also assumed that these only apply to cold-chain medications. While there are many cold chain products requiring thermal management, it is also necessary to store medications at both cryogenic temperatures (below -30°C) and controlled room temperature (15°C – 25°C). An excursion of just 2°C could completely ruin a pharmaceutical product. Finally, other variables can negatively affect the quality of a medications other than just temperature. Humidity and sunlight are two other environmental variables that must also be taken into consideration for any supply chain solution. It is imperative that all of these guidelines are accounted for when a medication is stored or transported, because an excursion in any of these areas can incur costs that can easily reach into the millions of dollars.