If you’ve ever taken certain medications in your life—say, conventional prescription cough syrups—you’ve likely read some instructions for proper storage on their labels. A lot of drug labels typically recommend that the substance be stored at room temperature and avoid exposure to high temperatures. But what happens when medicines are actually stored above room temperature?
They lose their effectiveness, as well as endanger appliances and furniture.
For instance, drugs like Lorazepam and Diazepam stored at over 98 degrees experience 75% and 25% decrease in potency, respectively. Albuterol inhalers for asthma can even explode when stored in temperatures of over 120 degrees. Insulin is also heat-sensitive, as well as concentrated epinephrine, which can lose 64% of its potency especially when exposed to repeated heating and cooling.
For homeowners keeping medicines in-house, as well as for pharmacies, one way to maintain drug effectiveness is to follow the storage directions on the labeling. It is not recommended to place medications in areas that receive direct sunlight or in sections with high humidity. Medicines are ideally stored in the coolest part of the house, preferably an air conditioned area. Air conditioners are after all designed to combat humidity and heat, and thus they can help keep medicines fresh and effective for as long as possible.