How Heat Can Affect Your Medications

Storing medicine under high temperatures reduces their potency and shelf-life. Typically, most pharmaceuticals are prepared such that they will remain stable at room temperature, around 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit. However, during the summer, room temperatures are sometimes far above that, which can be disastrous for your prescription, over the counter, or compound medication.

While you cannot entirely avoid high summer temperatures, there are helpful tricks you can use to keep prescription medication in good condition. This, however, requires strict adherence to instructions from your local pharmacy on how to store medications during the summer.

Why You Should Keep Medications Away from The Summer Heat

Medication can overheat due to a wide variety of factors. Below are a few of the most common culprits:

Hot weather

During summer, temperatures in Arkansas can rise to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Some medications can overheat in these extreme temperatures, which in turn reduces their potency. Houses that do not have proper air conditioning are also likely to become too hot to safely store medication. Even if you have air conditioning, it is always wise to have a backup storage space in case of a power outage.

Keeping the medication inside a car

Even with ample shade cover, cars are almost guaranteed to overheat if left outside for long periods of time. That is why during the summer, you should try to stray from storing  medicine in your car, and always take it with you when leaving the car for long periods.

Improper transportation

During the summer, extreme temperatures can hinder proper transportation of medication. Heat trapped in the package coupled with heat in the surrounding vehicle may reduce the medication’s effectiveness, and even render it ineffective. Some drugs, such as nitroglycerin, are especially susceptible to summer heat, and should be kept at the temperature listed on the bottle. Otherwise, they may not work as expected, even though they are not necessarily harmful.However, in some circumstances, the chemical structure of the drug can change and become harmful to your health. Different medications may require different storage temperatures to maintain their effectiveness.

Due to their different compositions, some medicines remain stable at temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Other medications decompose to form different compounds, some of which can be toxic. Before leaving your pharmacy, double check the storage instructions, especially if you are using compound medication. And, when transporting medicine, keep it in a container that allows for a free supply of fresh air.

What Is the Correct Temperature for Storing Medicine?

This is one of the most common questions asked by patients, and it has many different answers, all of which depend on the medicine in question. Some medications require refrigeration, while others require moderate to low temperatures. Generally, to guarantee a long shelf life, you should keep most drugs in a cool, dry place away from high temperatures and humidity.

How to Keep Medication Away from Heat

The package containing your medicine likely says that you should store it in a cool, dry place away from heat. However, it is not always clear on how to store medications during the summer, when even room temperatures are prone to spiking. To prevent heat damage, always follow these steps to ensure proper storage:

Read the Label to Determine the Ideal Temperatures

Compound medications require extra care during transport and storage to ensure that they remain effective. If refrigeration is needed, do it every time you use the drug. You should also check the temperature readings of the refrigerator to ensure that the medicine gets just the right temperature.

Store Medicine in a Cool, Dry Place

If your house does not have adequate climate control or the air conditioning does not work properly, then there is a high likelihood that poor storage may leave your medication vulnerable to heat. While it may be easy to identify signs of damage in tablets (an example is changes in color and shape), the same cannot be said for syrups and other liquid medication. For this reason, it is always wise to store medicine properly in a cool and dry place.

Limit Exposure to Heat, Light, and Moisture

Be sure to keep all medicines away from windows and other openings that allow direct sunlight. Using opaque material to block the sun rays can further reduce the amount of heat and light the medication is exposed to. Additionally, power outages in Arkansas are frequent during the summer, and can drastically affect medications, especially those that require refrigeration. For this reason, it is important to have an additional place where you can store these medications.

You should also not keep medicine in moist areas such as bathrooms, kitchen cabinets, or near your dishwasher. These high humidity areas, can expose your medication to high levels of moisture, and render them less effective as they get damp over time.

What to Do With Overheated Medicine

If you are concerned that your prescription has already been affected by high temperatures, talk to the pharmacists at Smith-Caldwell. If you need to replace it, we can help you get in touch with your health insurer, to see if they will cover the replacement cost or offer reimbursement. Barring that, we can help you can call the manufacturer, and see if they can organize a replacement. You may be eligible to get one at no cost at all.

Bottom Line

Keeping your medication in good condition calls for more than just having good air conditioning. The blazing summer heat can adversely affect the integrity of the drug, hence the need to follow storage instructions.

If you are concerned about how to store medications during the summer, contact Smith-Caldwell at 501-315-7700. As your local pharmacy, your health is important to us, and we are happy to offer advice on proper handling and storage.