Tips for Medication Storage in Cold Weather

I’m sure you are aware that high temperatures can be harmful to mediations, but did you know that exposure to extreme temperatures could make medicines ineffective or even dangerous? Prescription and over-the-counter medications come with insertions that detail storage guidelines.

Temperature guidelines for storing medicines in cold climates…

The required temperature for medications is the room temperature between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. However, some medications commonly prescribed to seniors have specific storage instructions that caregivers should know about, including the following examples.

  • Inhaled medications: Brovana, Foradil
  • Injectable medications for diabetes: Insulin, Byetta, Victoza, Symlin.
  • Drops for the eyes: azacite, phospholine iodide, Travatan and Travatan Z, Xalatan
  • Other medications: Copaxone, Forteo, Fortical (calcitonin, nasal spray), Octreotide

What happens when medications are not stored correctly?

Prescriptions that are subjected to extremely cold temperatures may lose their effectiveness before their expiration date printed. Studies suggest that we should not store medications where they may be exposed to temperatures that fall outside of the suggested range. Therefore, avoid leaving medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) in the car, on the windowsill, in a garage or in an outside storage shed during cold weather.

When choosing a storage method or location, keep in mind that many medications can also be affected by exposure to direct humidity.

How to safely store medicines in cold weather…

  • Review the storage information of the medications you take to be aware of the temperature recommendations.
  • Do not store medications in your car or trunk for extended periods in cold climates. Remove them from the car when you are stepping out.
  • Ask your pharmacy if they have an emergency generator to maintain temperature control of refrigerated medications.
  • If you have the option, order any of your mail order prescriptions in packages with temperature control. Have medications ordered by mail or Internet pharmacies send to you by overnight delivery methods and be there to accept packages.
  • Keep a record of the expiration dates of medications by asking the pharmacy team to put this information on the container of your medication. You can also put this information on a label on the container you are using for the medication.

How to determine if medications have been exposed to extreme cold…

Medication may or may not show external signs of extreme cold damage. Researchers warn people to watch for medicines that have a strange smell, are discolored, are unusually hard or soft to the touch, pills that are cracked, chipped or stuck, and creams that show signs of separation. However, depending on the prescription and how long it was exposed to cold temperatures, it may not look different. In these cases, the only indication that you can have a medication compromised is if the symptoms of your illness or disorder come back.

What to do if you noticed a drug is damaged?

It is very important to contact your pharmacist if you suspect that your medications have been subjected to extremely cold weather. The pharmacist can tell you if you need to throw away the medication and can also help you order for a replacement prescription.

1 thought on “Tips for Medication Storage in Cold Weather”

  1. Thanks for mentioning that medication not stored at the right temperature can cause them to lose its effectiveness. I’m hoping that my local pharmacy will invest in better pharmaceutical storage. I know there have been a few cases of medications not being stored properly.

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