FDA's Hurricane Medication-Safety Recommendations

The FDA released a notice to consumers about the importance in having a plan for emergency medication and medical supplies for both people and animals. In general, the FDA encourages consumers to do the following regarding drugs, insulin, vaccines, and blood products. 

Regarding drugs exposed to water, where replacements may not be readily available: 
  • If the container is contaminated but the contents appear unaffected (eg, the pills are dry), the pills may be used until a replacement can be obtained. 
  • If the pill is wet, it is contaminated and should be discarded. 
  • Other products (eg, pills, oral liquids, injectables, inhalers, topicals) —even those in their original containers—should be discarded if they have come into contact with flood or contaminated water. 
  • Capsules, tablets, and liquids in drug containers with screw-top caps, snap lids, or droppers, should be discarded if they are contaminated. Medications placed in any alternative storage containers should be discarded if they have come in contact with flood or contaminated water.

Regarding insulin storage: 
  • In general, insulin loses potency according to the temperature it is exposed to and length of that exposure. 
  • Try to keep insulin as cool as possible and away from direct heat and direct sunlight. 
  • If you are using ice, avoid freezing the insulin. 
  • When properly stored insulin becomes available, discard and replace the insulin vials that have been exposed to these extreme conditions.

Regarding vaccines, blood products, and biologics:
  • When the power goes out, note the time and keep refrigerators and freezers closed as much as possible.
  • When power is restored, determine the temperature in the refrigerator or freezer (if possible) before it starts to go back down.  
  • Consider removing products from the refrigerator or freezer and packing them in ice or dry ice if power outage continues.
  • If contact with flood water occurs, the product should be considered contaminated and should not be used.

For more information call (888) 463-6332 or visit http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm317232.htm