"Store Medications at Room Temperature"
Those four words are etched on most pill bottle labels, but how many of us travel with temperature-sensitive medications follow those words?
|Medications left in car can lose potency.|
We all do it: leave the inhaler in the glove box; the insulin bottle slips between the seats; and those nitroglycerin tablets fell out of the blazer pocket when thrown in the back seat.
Leaving medications that are sensitive to heat does more than simply warm them. When prescription medications are left at above room temperatures, like in a hot car, it affects how potent and effective the drug is. During peak summer months, interior car temperatures can reach over 110 degrees, which well exceeds the 72 degree room temperature typical for medications.
Here are a few tips on how to travel smarter with your temperature sensitive medications:
1. Don't leave medications in your car when you're not. Think of them as a pet- you wouldn't leave a dog in a hot car, would you?! Don't leave them to sweat it out in the trunk either, but somewhere air circulates to keep a safe temperature.
2. Certain prescription drugs are more susceptible to heat than others and require a controlled temperature.
- Insulin, which is used to treat diabetes patients, degrades very quickly when exposed to heat and should never be left in a car. According to the American Diabetes Association, current bottles of insulin should be stored at room temperature and extra bottles can be stored in the fridge. It should never be stored in the freezer, in direct sunlight, or in the glove compartment of a vehicle.
- Nitroglycerin, used by those who have heart conditions, is affected very quickly by heat. According to Drugs.com, Nitroglycerin is to be stored at room temperature and away from heat, moisture, and light.
- Inhalers, a device used to treat Asthma, contain medicine in a pressurized can. According to Proventil, a brand of asthma inhaler, exposure to temperatures above 120°F may cause bursting.
- Epicene, used for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), is another drug that should not be exposed to heat. According to Drugs.com, EpiPens should be stored at room temperatures, not refrigerated or frozen, and stored away from heat, light, and moisture. Brief storage at temperatures between 59 and 86 degrees is permitted.
4. Before you down your medicine, be sure to check the anatomy of your medicine. If it comes in the form of a capsule or pill, double check to make sure they aren't stuck together or wilted. If your pills don't look the same after they were exposed to heat, it's probably best to check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if they are still safe to consume.
5. If traveling on a plane, do not check your prescription drugs with your luggage. Most cargo holds are not climate controlled so the potency of your pills cannot be guaranteed. Throw your pills in your carry on bag - that way you know they are safe.
6. Most pharmacies will provide a one time replacement for incidents like these. Check with your insurance company, or drug manufacturer to see if it will replace your medicine. If your insurance company will not provide a replacement for your overheated med and you have to purchase it at retail price, print out a FamilyWize Card and take it to one of our participating pharmacies. Eight out of ten times, FamilyWize can give you a discount on your FDA approved medication.
Of course, only your doctor or pharmacist can provide professional advice on effective ways to store medications.
So, who else is guilty of leaving their medications in a summery place? Comment to share your PILLfered potency story!