Storage directions are the one thing that sticks out on the labeling instructions of medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter. You have probably at one time asked yourself why medicines need to be at particular temperatures. What would happen if they went above or below the stated range?
Many labels on medicines recommend storage at room temperature, but some may not have the equipment to fulfill the condition. So what happens in extreme summer heat or freezing winters?
What Happens to Medicines at Low or High Temperatures?
Medicines have a delicate structure, and it’s recommended that you store them at specific temperatures, generally between 68 and 77 degrees F, to maintain their potency. Room temperatures keep medicines stable and maintain immunogenicity in the case of vaccines, which is its potency. If it becomes too hot, the vaccines and meds can become useless.
Fairly typical summer heat is above 86 degrees F, and this is way over the recommended temperatures. Without air conditioning, these temperatures negatively affect the efficiency of the medicines. For example, some asthma inhalers can even explode if the temperatures go over 120 degrees or deliver less of the chemicals when exposed to moderately high temperatures.
On its part, Lorazepam’s potency decreases as much as 75% in temperatures of around 98 degrees, and insulin loses its potency under high temperatures.
When it’s chilly, the diluent in most of the vaccines freezes and destroys the vaccine. Ideally, keep pharmaceuticals refrigerated at the recommended temperature range from the time of production to administration.
Certain vaccines such as Covid-19 and measles are sensitive to temperature changes and easily damage when temperatures rise.
How You Store the Meds
Where you store the medications in the house can determine if they are effective or not. Don’t store them in an area of sunlight or high humidity, such as close to the dishwasher or bathroom.
The best place to store the medicine is in the basement or other coolest area in the house. Typically, people leave their meds inside the vehicle, and this is never good. Temperatures inside the car can go over 100 degrees F, which can compromise the drugs’ integrity. Take them with you even when making a short stopover at a fast food joint.
Medicines and vaccines take a significant portion of the budget and can lead to a huge loss when they become useless.
Usually, your fridge at home is not sufficient for the all-important task of keeping medicines and vaccines potent. They don’t have adequate control over the temperatures, and any temperature fluctuations can irreversibly damage the pharmacies and make them unsafe for use. In some cases, they can even expose the patient to illnesses and other adverse reactions.
Specialist pharmacy fridges have better temperature control settings and stay within a specific range. Some of the best have temperature probes to detect any fluctuations and stabilize the conditions.
Make it a habit of reading and following the instructions on a medicine label. Store them as recommended, and the medication will be as effective as it should be.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.