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Five Things You Need to Know About Medications and Summer Heat

By AgingCare
7/23/2013 11:20:28 AM

Did you know that exposure to extreme temperatures could render your medications ineffective-even dangerous?

Safely storing drugs during the summer and winter months can be a challenge. Even if you are able to decipher the tiny script that details the storage instructions for a particular prescription, there is a host of complicating factors that can crop up.

What happens if you accidentally leave a prescription in the car all day? What should you do if the power goes out and you can't refrigerate a medication that says, ‘keep refrigerated?'

Credit: AgingCare/Care2

Papatya Tankut, vice president of professional pharmacy services for CVS pharmacy, answers some of the common questions surrounding the proper storage of prescription medications:

Do prescription medications need to be kept at certain temperatures?

According to Tankut, the ideal temperature for most medications is room temperature-anywhere between 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. However, some common medications have specific storage instructions that you should be aware of:

- Inhaled medications: Brovana, Foradil

- Injectable drugs for diabetes: Insulin, Byetta, Victoza, Symlin

- Eye drops: Azacite, Phospholine Iodide, Travatan and Travatan Z, Xalatan

- Other meds: Copaxone, Forteo, Fortical (calcitonin Nasal spray), Octreotide

You can double-check the particular directions for these and other prescriptions you might be taking on the National Institutes of Health's drug information website.

What happens if my medications get too hot or too cold?

Prescriptions that are subjected to extremely hot or extremely cold temperatures can lose their effectiveness prior to their expiration date, Tankut says. That's why she suggests not storing meds where they might be exposed to temperatures that fall outside of the suggested range. This means avoiding leaving medications (both prescription and over the counter) in the car, on a windowsill, in a garage or outside storage shed, or (if you're traveling) inside checked baggage.

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