Warning about keeping and storing medicines

May 31, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Many people keep their medicines in places that may be too hot and humid, or too cold, to keep them safe to use, new University of Otago research suggests.

Professor Pauline Norris from the School of says undergraduate researchers on summer studentships used data from a previous nationwide study to identify where people kept medicines.

They then placed small devices that take regular readings of temperature and humidity in those places.

Many people reported keeping medicines in handbags and backpacks for ease of access but Pharmacy student Chong Chi Shen found that bags left in the sun can get very hot quickly and remain hot for long periods of time. In Dunedin on a warm day, the front compartment of one backpack left in the sun reached more than 60 Degrees Celsius.

“These temperatures, particularly those observed in the backpack, will accelerate chemical and physical degradation of many medicines,” says one of the lead researchers Dr. Clare Strachan.

“Of particular concern are proteins such as insulin, which is regularly carried round in backpacks and is likely to degrade within hours at temperatures above 60 °C.

“This can be dangerous. For example, insulin that has been heated too much does not work to lower blood sugar levels in people who need to control their diabetes,” she says.

Temperatures in cars in the sun where medicines were kept were also high - over 50 °C. The study authors are also recommending that people try to avoid leaving their medicines in cars for long periods of time.

Surprisingly to the researchers, the study also found that cargo holds in planes can dip below freezing point on long haul flights, and in this study the temperature fell to -4°C.

This could also be damaging to a range of medicines, such as emulsions, solutions and proteins. Therefore, the study authors recommend that people carry their medicines, particularly liquid and protein medicines such as insulin, with them in the cabin of the plane on long flights, instead of keeping them in checked luggage.

Professor Norris said Pharmacy student Campbell Hewson also found that kitchens and bathrooms were the most commonly reported rooms for storing medicines; in one bathroom 100% humidity was reached, while a kitchen reached 85% humidity.

Dr. Strachan says excess could potentially cause chemical degradation or physical changes, which may affect the efficacy, safety or appearance of the .

Explore further: Researchers still searching for ways to help patients take their meds

Related Stories

Researchers still searching for ways to help patients take their meds

May 13, 2011
Clinicians have tried a variety of ways to encourage people to take prescribed medicines, but a new research review says it is still unclear whether many of these interventions have been effective.

Recommended for you

Study suggests ending opioid epidemic will take years

July 20, 2017
The question of how to stem the nation's opioid epidemic now has a major detailed response. A new study chaired by University of Virginia School of Law Professor Richard Bonnie provides extensive recommendations for curbing ...

Team-based model reduces prescription opioid use among patients with chronic pain by 40 percent

July 17, 2017
A new, team-based, primary care model is decreasing prescription opioid use among patients with chronic pain by 40 percent, according to a new study out of Boston Medical Center's Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine, which ...

Private clinics' peddling of unproven stem cell treatments is unsafe and unethical

July 7, 2017
Stem cell science is an area of medical research that continues to offer great promise. But as this week's paper in Science Translational Medicine highlights, a growing number of clinics around the globe, including in Australia, ...

Popular heartburn drugs linked to higher death risk

July 4, 2017
Popular heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have been linked to a variety of health problems, including serious kidney damage, bone fractures and dementia. Now, a new study from Washington University School ...

Most reproductive-age women using opioids also use another substance

June 30, 2017
The majority of reproductive-age and pregnant women who use opioids for non-medical purposes also use at least one other substance, ranging from nicotine or alcohol to cocaine, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate ...

At-risk chronic pain patients taper opioids successfully with psychological tools

June 28, 2017
Psychological support and new coping skills are helping patients at high risk of developing chronic pain and long-term, high-dose opioid use taper their opioids and rebuild their lives with activities that are meaningful ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.