Excessive Heat Can Harm Medications, Expert
SATURDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Medications can be harmed
by high temperatures, say pharmacists.
Although just a handful of drugs have been tested at
temperatures above 86F, all medications could be altered by extreme
heat, they warn.
According to Dr. Amy Peak, clinical pharmacist and director of
Drug Information Services at Butler University, several medications
have been tested at high temperatures. She outlined some of the
changes the researchers found:
- Albuterol inhalers: The container could burst at temperatures
above 120F. Moreover, when stored at high temperatures, there may
be a decrease in the amount of medication inhaled.
- Concentrated epinephrine: Cyclical heating could reduce 64
percent of the medication's potency.
- Diazepam: Concentration of this drug dropped 25 percent when
stored at 98.6F.
- Formoterol (capsules that are placed in inhalers): Following
four hours of exposure to 158F heat, the amount released from the
capsules was less than half the normal amount.
- Lorazepam: When stored at 98F, concentration decreased 75
- Mometasone (formoterol inhalers): Temperatures above 120F may
cause the container to burst.
Peak says several more medications may be susceptible to
excessive heat, including:
- Insulin: Excessive heat could make the insulin less effective.
It could also cause the insulin vials to explode.
- Thyroid hormones: Thyroid hormones could be altered by
excessively high temperatures, resulting in inconsistent
- Any medications in aerosolized canisters could burst when
exposed to temperatures above 120F.
Although the United States Pharmacopeia Convention Inc.
recommends that medications be protected from excessive heat, only
a few drugs are actually tested at temperatures above 86F, Peak
Nevertheless, she noted there are a number of steps people can
take to ensure the quality of their medications during heat waves,
- Be aware that temperatures inside cars can top 160 F. When
driving, be sure to keep medications out of the trunk and in the
climate-controlled passenger compartment.
- Never leave medications in a parked car.
- During heat waves, have medications shipped overnight in
special cooled containers.
- Request a one-time replacement from your insurance company or
drug manufacturer for any medication that may have been affected by
The National Institutes of Health provides more information on
storing medicine safely.
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