BJC Med Talks: How to store your medications

Hello, today we’re going to talk about
medication storage. I have a cartoon here from Hi and Lois from several years ago
I’d like to to illustrate some of the problems about medications and
medication storage. As you can, see Hi, the first panel, walks into the bathroom and
he’s talking to Lois, and he says, “For a healthy family we sure take a lot of
medicines. There’s a lot of them in our medicine cabinet.” And then Lois says, “And most of them are expired.” I’d be willing to bet that a majority of you store your
medicines in the medicine cabinet in your bathroom. Don’t do that, don’t do
that! Medicine cabinets are the worst place. You’ve got to consider drugs or
prescriptions are chemicals. And if you remember general chemistry, what are the
two main things that break down chemicals? Heat and moisture. So, what’s
the bathroom full of? Heat and moisture. Never keep your medicines in a medicine
cabinet in the bathroom. Also never keep them in the kitchen over a sink, near the
oven, near the stove. Don’t also keep them in a windowsill because the sunlight
will destroy them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve answered a phone from a
patient. “Oh my goodness, I’ve dropped my tablets in the toilet.” Well, what are you
doing standing over the toilet taking your medicine? Completely wrong. There are guidelines on how to store your medicine and at what temperature, and that’s very
important. They’re listed on the bottles of the medicines. They’re also listed on
the sheets that you get with your prescriptions. Always read those. Follow
them explicitly, please. The general accepted guidelines that the FDA uses is
called the USP standards for controlled storage. That temperature range is from
68 degrees to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 20 to 25 degrees centigrade.
That is where you want to keep the majority of your medications. There’s an
acceptable range a little greater than that which goes from 58 degrees to 86 degrees art 15 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius. Those are called
excursionary drugs; you can keep them outside of that narrow band. And then you
also have to worry about drugs that have to be refrigerated. Insulins, some
preservative-free eye drops, and also some topical drugs – they should be kept
in a refrigerator. Do not freeze them; please don’t freeze them. Because if you
freeze them, they should be discarded. If you’re diabetic, and I’m sure if you’ve
been a diabetic and have had to use insulin, when you use that cold insulin
and inject it, it can burn. It can hurt. You can take your bottle of insulin that
you are currently using, leave it at controlled room temperature for up to 28
days – that will reduce the pain and the irritation on injection. After 28 days, I
don’t care if it’s in the refrigerator or not, you should discard your vials of
insulin. The holes have punched so many times through the stopper it may not be
sterile anymore. Another thing to keep in mind is when
you store drugs I recommend that you do it in a cabinet or in a drawer. If you
have small children, if you have grandchildren, if you have friends with
little kids that come over, use a childproof lock on those drawers. Keep
them away from heating ducts because they will increase the temperature in a
drawer or a cabinet. Also if you have prescriptions in today’s world that are
controlled drugs, let’s say pain relievers, opioids, drugs for ADHD, any
kind of a controlled drug – if you have guns you keep them in a locked cabinet –
it’d be wise to keep your controlled drugs or your narcotics in a locked
cabinet also. Not so much to protect the drugs, but to protect them from being
stolen. From your friends, from your neighbors, from your relatives – it’s
amazing. So, to take away from this today, please keep your drugs stored at a
controlled room temperature. Keep them safely stored out of harm’s way for the
drug and for the children. And always look on the labels on the bottles and
ask your pharmacist. If you have any questions or any
concerns, the pharmacists will always be happy to answer. Thank you.

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