How to store medicines in wilderness and EMS environment – Read the guidelines!

How to store medicines in wilderness and EMS environment – Read the guidelines!

Source and images: WMS – Base Camp RX Temperature Stability (By Nancy Pietroski, PharmD, FAWM, WEMT, CTH)

The storage of medications is an argument to which nobody gives much attention. After all, most of medicines must be stored at 20°-25°C, the so called “room temperature” or “condition of civilization”. But when we talk about the way you store medicines at home: do you care to keep them inside their original bottle without mix them with others? do you correctly keep medications to be refrigrated in the fridge? And according to this, have you ever asked if your fridge is correctly regulated? Do you store medicines in bathroom, where there is a high tax of humidity each time a person takes a shower?

On the base of these questions, let us think of how difficult medicines storage in wilderness environment is! Wilderness environment does not only include outside environment, but it also have to deal with the EMS one. In emergency scenarios, catastrophes, cases in which people have to face important climate changes, paramedics and rescuers must have a guideline to store correctly medicines without compromise their properties.

The question is:

HOW DO YOU KNOW AT WHAT TEMPERATURE  A MEDICATION NEEDS TO BE STORED?

First, here’s the conversion between °C and °F:

°F = °C x 1.8 + 32
°C = (°F-32) x 5/9 (0.56)

Storage range is printed on the container or blister pack. However, can happen that for prescription drugs does not usually report the proper storage range on bottles or packs, unless the drug needs to be stored at a particular temperature, for example, refrigerated, protected from light, etc.

The best way to find the correct storage temperature for prescription drugs is in the manufacturer’s prescribing information (found on the drug company’s website, the PDR, or a copy that is provided by the pharmacy). Fortunately, not many products need to be frozen, otherwise it would be even more complex keep them in environments outside the home or healthcare facility.

WHAT HAPPENS TO DRUGS WHEN THEY ARE NOT STORED IN PROPER CONDITIONS?
The following table illustrates different types of environmental conditions and what can happen to medications, with an example of a medication that would be used in wilderness medicine.
table2-1952x3897-10
The following are other medications that may be used in wilderness or travel medicine and possible effects of the environment on stability.
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For what concerns EMS environment, here a guidelines from the USP for storing medications in EMS vehicles and ambulances.
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