Medication Safety Advice Following Severe Weather and/or Power Outages
In the wake of severe weather and related power-outages, persons who take medications requiring refrigeration should remember that proper storage is critical.
Medications must be maintained under proper environmental conditions, and exposure to water, heat, humidity or other factors can seriously affect how the drug is going to work in the body. A loss of electricity could easily affect certain medications, and unfortunately, those affected medications may no longer be considered safe.
Following a power outage, items that require refrigeration should not be relied upon for full effectiveness if they could not be maintained at the temperature recommended by the manufacturer. Temperature-sensitive drugs lose potency if not refrigerated and should be replaced with a new supply as soon as possible.
Anyone having questions about the safety or storage of any medication they are taking should contact their pharmacist.
Drugs that have been exposed to environmental conditions that fall outside the manufacturer-recommended storage standards are considered misbranded or adulterated, and should not be used. Non-refrigerated items such as tablets or capsules that have been exposed to water, excess heat or humidity can be considered adulterated. This applies to both prescription and non-prescription drugs. Storage information for over-the-counter medications is found on the package or label.
Storm-related outages and transportation issues can affect deliveries of medicines and supplies, so consumers should plan ahead for products and devices that they need, such as oxygen, diabetic supplies or batteries. In addition, consumers should allow themselves adequate time to find necessary items at local stores, or to ensure that their delivery service can reach them before they run out.
Persons who have had to leave their home and are temporarily staying at another address – with a neighbor, family member or at a shelter – should notify their medical supply providers to have their supplies delivered to the temporary location with no lapse in their care.
More information is available at the following Food and Drug Administration web pages.
- Hurricanes: Health and Safety News http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm064572.htm
- Impact of Severe Weather Conditions on Biological Products http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/ProductSecurity/ucm147243.htm
- Safe Drug Use After a Natural Disaster http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085200.htm
- Information Regarding Insulin Storage and Switching Between Products in an Emergency http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/EmergencyPreparedness/ucm085213.htm