Heat warning over medicines

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Some medicines lose their effectiveness when they’re stored above a certain temperature, so as hot temperatures his Penrith this week, independent organisation NPS MedicineWise is reminding people to be aware of how to store and transport their medicines.

“In general, medicines should be stored away from heat, moisture and sunlight, but to make this a little more complicated, they shouldn’t be stored in the fridge either unless the label says so,” says Sarah Spagnardi, pharmacist and manager of NPS Medicines Line.

“Most medicines should be stored below 25°C or 30°C. Don’t leave them in a warm place, such as above the stove or in front of a west-facing window, and definitely not on the car dashboard.

“It’s important because the heat could change the effectiveness of the medicine, and some medicines can change their form and become difficult to use if they become too hot. Gelatin capsules may soften and stick together, ointments and creams may become runny, and suppositories may melt.”

People are encouraged to read the medicine label or the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) leaflet for storage instructions, talk to their pharmacist if they have any questions, or phone NPS Medicines Line.

“Many liquid medicines and injection vials should be stored in the fridge, but store them in the fridge only if the label says so,” says Ms Spagnardi.

“The fridge means the main compartment of the fridge, not the freezer. If the medicines accidentally freeze, check with a pharmacist before using them to make sure they are still usable.

“If you’re on the go, consider taking with you only what you need for the day, and leave the remainder at home. Medicines normally kept in the fridge can be put in a small esky or insulated lunchbox, which will help keep them as cool and dry as possible. A frozen cold pack may reduce the temperature of the medicine to below its recommended storage temperature, or freeze the medicine, so these aren’t actually recommended.

“One more safety tip: if you’re moving medicines out of their normal safe storage place, do remember to keep them out of reach of any children in your care,” she says.

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