Emergency Prep- Medication Safety
Floodwaters and fires can contaminate and destroy pretty much anything they come in contact with, including lifesaving prescription medications. Because replacement medications may not always be readily available, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers tips for medications that may have been affected by fire, flooding, or unsafe water and those that require refrigeration.
“If a contaminated product is considered medically necessary, and it cannot be replaced right away, you should contact a healthcare provider (for example, Red Cross, poison control, health departments, etc.) for guidance,” FDA.
Drugs Exposed to Heat
- The effectiveness of drugs can be destroyed by high temperatures and fires.
- Medications exposed to excessive heat, such as fires, should be replaced.
- For lifesaving drugs: If the lifesaving medication in its container looks normal, the medication can be used until a replacement is available.
Drugs Exposed to Unsafe Water
- Drugs (pills, oral liquids, drugs for injection, inhalers, skin medications) that are exposed to floods or unsafe municipal water may become contaminated.
- Contaminated drugs can cause serious health effects and should be discarded.
- For lifesaving drugs: If the container is contaminated but the pills inside are dry–the pills may be used until a replacement can be obtained. Wet pills should always be discarded.
Drugs that Need Refrigeration
- Some drugs require refrigeration (for example, insulin, somatropin, and drugs that have been reconstituted).
- If there has been a long-term loss of power, these drugs should be discarded.
- For lifesaving drugs: If the drug is absolutely necessary to sustain life (insulin, for example), it may be used until a new supply is available.
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