Many factors can damage your medication, including heat, air, light, and moisture. Exposure of medication to inappropriate conditions may render them ineffective, or even harmful if ingested. It’s important to keep in mind that where you store your medication can affect its potency and safety.
HOW TO STORE YOUR MEDICATIONS
Every medication has its own recommended storage condition- from room temperature, to refrigeration, to freezing, therefore it’s advisable to check with your pharmacist about any specific storage instructions. The majority of medications may be stored at room temperature, in a cool dry place. Examples include your dresser drawer, a closet, a storage box, and a shelf. It’s best to avoid the bathroom medicine cabinet, since the heat and moisture from your shower, bath, and sink may damage your medicine. It’s also advisable to avoid the kitchen, since heat from the stove, sink, and any hot appliances can also damage your medicine. Always remember to store your medication out of sight and reach of children and pets, to prevent accidental ingestion.
Now that the warmer weather has arrived, climate changes can also affect the storage conditions of your medication. A medication that should be stored at room temperature means between 15 to 25 degrees Celsius; cool temperature means between 8 to 15 degrees Celsius; refrigeration means between 2 to 8 degrees Celsius; and freezing temperature means -10 to -25 degrees Celsius. Check with your pharmacist for the precise temperature range for your medication.
HOW TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR MEDICATIONS
Summer travels are well underway for many people, and it’s important to make sure that your medicine travels safely with you. When packing for a trip, always make sure you store your medication in the original labelled container and carry a copy of the prescription to avoid problems at the border as well as to facilitate drug identification in case of emergency. Do not try to save luggage space by combining medications into a single container. Always bring your medications with you in your carry-on luggage, and consider placing silica packs in medication vials if extended travel is planned in hot/humid environments.
Common medications with special storage requirements include insulin and liquid antibiotics. Insulin is stable at room temperature for 28-30 days, and insulin that will not be used within that time period or any medication that requires refrigeration must be kept cool for the duration of travel. This can be accomplished using a cooler or a chilled thermos, which should then be refrigerated once the destination is reached. Children’s liquid antibiotics may vary in their recommended storage conditions. Some liquids must be refrigerated (e.g. cephalexin), some should be stored at room temperature (e.g. azithromycin), while others may have different expiry dates depending on which option is chosen (e.g. amoxicillin). Check with your pharmacist about your child’s specific antibiotic.
Being diligent about storing your medication safely and appropriately will help ensure that you get the most out of your medication, and the protection of your health and those around you.