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Weather tips for medication safety

Lupus Foundation of America

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It’s a hot summer day, and you’re taking a road trip to the beach. So you pack all your stuff—including your medications—in a bag and toss it into the trunk of your car, or in your suitcase destined for the airplane. Nothing wrong with that—right?

Wrong.

If your luggage is exposed to extreme temperatures or humidity, your medications could lose potency and effectiveness.

Most pharmaceutical manufacturers recommend storing medications at 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, says Kristen A. Binaso, senior director of corporate alliances at the American Pharmacists Association. Check the drug information sheet for instructions about proper storage temperatures, or check the manufacturer’s Web site.

If your medicine does get exposed to extreme temperatures, would you be able to tell? In some situations, the medicine’s appearance could change, which could be a clue that the product quality has changed,” says Desmond Hunt, M.D., senior scientific liaison at the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, a scientific nonprofit organization that sets standards for medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements. But with small changes, it would be very difficult for the consumer to notice, even if they’ve taken the drug product regularly.”

This advice for traveling safely with medications is from MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

  • Before leaving for your trip, make a list of your medications—and include contact information for your pharmacist and doctor, too.
  • Pack an extra few days’ worth of medication just in case your trip home is delayed.
  • Because you can’t be sure what the temperature will be in an airplane’s baggage compartment, always pack your medicines in a carry-on bag rather than a checked suitcase.
  • Be aware of changes in time zones. Consider setting a watch to your home time zone to ensure you take your medications at the same time you would at home.
  • And, of course, don’t ever leave your medications in a hot car!