As the temperatures and the humidity levels soar throughout the summer, it is important to take the right steps to beat the heat by remaining cool and hydrated. However, doctors and pharmacists are warning patients that should also be aware that prescription and over the counter medications can be affected by the high heats, as well. Therefore, it is a good idea to know how to keep them stored properly to stop them from deteriorating too quickly.
According to Ray Jermstad from St Mary’s/St. Vincent Hospital, it is likely more important to follow prescription storage recommendations in the summer than at any other time of the year because the heat and humidity can cause the drug to deteriorate. Unless the temperature rises as high as 120 degrees, there is no way to know exactly how heavily the drugs have been impacted.
The directions of prescription storage on most medications say that they should be stored at room temperature in a dry, cool place, such as a kitchen cabinet that is located well away from the stove and the oven. Unfortunately, all too many people keep them in a bathroom cabinet, such as the “medicine cabinet”, where temperatures fluctuate considerably and the moisture levels are likely the highest in the house due to the steam from showers and baths.
At the same time, doctors and pharmacists are also cautioning that unless medications specifically state that they should be refrigerated, that is not the proper storage location for them, either. They also pointed out that one of the worst places that medication can ever be kept is in the car, as the temperatures inside vehicles fluctuate far more than they do outside. A 90 degree day can easily produce a 120 degree environment within a car. In fact, that can occur within a half hour in a parked car, at which point any medication should be considered improperly stored and, therefore, spoiled. This includes everything from a prescription drug to an over the counter headache pill, topical creams and ointments, or cough syrup.
These temperatures can cause ingredients to separate and chemicals to break down. Therefore, the medications can either become less effective, or can cause unpredictable reactions in the body. Though adverse effects will not result in the majority of medications, they may not work as well – or work at all – anymore. These medications should therefore be brought back to the pharmacy for proper disposal.