If drugs are exposed to excessive heat or cold, they lose their effectiveness in treatment. For example, if you store lorazepam, a cure for anxiety and sleep disorders at temperatures above 36 degrees, it loses 75 percent of its effectiveness. In some cases, very high temperatures can even lead to an explosion of the drug or to its complete ineffectiveness.
An important storage condition for a number of drugs is the absence of sunlight. In this regard, with the advent of the hot season, the storage of drugs should be taken more carefully, since the high air temperature and the long daylight hours negatively affect the pharmacological properties of the drugs.
If you read the fine print on your medicine bottles, you will find that many of them need to be stored at “room temperature.” The official range of “room temperature” is from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius. You should not keep your medicines outside this range for a long period of time. But even for a short period of time, the temperature should never rise above 30 or fall below 15 degrees.
The most sensitive drugs
Most of the trouble will be with hormonal drugs, antibiotics and drugs that contain bacterial cultures (such as serums or vaccines). If such preparations are stored incorrectly, then their properties are lost in a very short time. For example, it is known that if the ampoules with insulin are at an elevated temperature for more than an hour, then there will be no benefit from the drug for a month. Preparations with nitroglycerin, if stored at high temperature, also lose their pharmacological properties after an hour. As you know, for people with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, such negligence can lead to very disastrous results, since the life of this category of people depends on the effectiveness of the drugs taken.
In addition to high temperature, the vast majority of drugs deteriorate when exposed to direct sunlight. Under the influence of light, active substances can change their structure, thereby becoming useless. Therefore, if on a hot day your medicine (especially if it is in a transparent package, bottle) lies on the windowsill for at least an hour, then you can throw it away, since it will not bring you any benefit.
How to protect medicines from heat?
According to all existing requirements, medicines stored in pharmacies must be stored strictly in accordance with the provisions in the instructions. That is, in a pharmacy you buy a drug that has retained all its pharmacological properties. To preserve all the properties of the drug, you must strictly adhere to the instructions, in particular, the requirements for storage of the drug. Some drugs need to be stored at room temperature, while others are not sensitive to temperature extremes and can be stored at high temperature.
If the instructions indicate “store in a cool and dark place”, “in a cool, dry place,” this means that the drug should be stored at a temperature not exceeding 15 degrees, that is, it must be placed in the refrigerator (best of all lower side shelf). To protect the drug from high humidity, wrap the packaging with polyethylene and in this form already store in the refrigerator.
Carefully inspect the packaging of medicines – they should not be damaged. If you take, say, half a tablet, then the second part is better to throw away, since storing the medicine in the open air can lead to the oxidation of the pharmacologically active components of the drug, thereby depriving it of its main therapeutic properties.
You should also regularly check medications for changes in shape or color, as in this case they were probably damaged by exposure to heat, which means that you must dispose of them and replace them.
Tips for motorists
In hot weather, the car interior can warm up to 50 degrees! Therefore, if you need to take some drugs with you on the road, in no case leave them in the car. Upon arrival at the designated point, take the medicine with you and store them in a room with working air conditioners or in the refrigerator (if there are such requirements in the instructions).
In the case when you are forced to spend a long time behind the wheel, then place the drugs in special cooler bags that will protect the drugs from exposure to high temperature and direct sunlight.
If the power is turned off
What to do with medicines stored in the refrigerator in the event of a power outage? Here you will be helped out by a special bag-thermal insulator. Always keep a few ice cubes in the freezer, which you need to put in a thermos bag along with the medicine. Ice should not be put directly on the medicine package, but aside to maintain a low temperature.
If the power outage is delayed for a long time (more than a day), then consult your doctor about the suitability of your medicines.