What to Do with Medications Affected by a Natural Disaster

  • <i>Drugs Exposed to Excessive Heat</i> <br> <br> CDER suggests replacing drugs that have been exposed to excessive heat such as fire, as their effectiveness could be compromised.

  • <i>Drugs Exposed to Unsafe Water</i> <br> <br> Drugs that come in contact with flood or contaminated water should be discarded, according to CDER. This recommendation extends to drugs that are still in their original containers with screw-top caps, snap lids, or droppers.

  • <i>Lifesaving Drugs Exposed to Heat or Unsafe Water</i> <br> <br> In scenarios where drugs are needed to treat a life-threatening condition, the CDER says, "If the drug looks unchanged – for example, pills in a wet container appear dry – the drugs can be used until a replacement is available." If pills are wet then they need to be discarded.

  • <i>Drugs That Need to Be Reconstituted</i> <br> <br> Only purified or bottled water should be used when reconstituting drugs.

  • <i>Drugs That Need Refrigeration</i> <br> <br> For refrigerated drugs, if electrical power has been down for a long time, the drug should be discarded and replaced. However, if the drug is needed in a life-threatening situation then, "it may be used until a new supply is available."

  • <i>Temperature-Sensitive Drugs</i> <br> <br> As temperature-sensitive drugs (such as insulin) lose potency when they are not refrigerated, they should be replaced with a new supply as soon as possible.

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The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) has issued a list of recommendations for the safe use of medications during emergencies and natural disasters. The FDA advises individuals who are concerned about particular products to contact their pharmacist, healthcare provider, or the manufacturer's customer service department.

Information regarding insulin storage and switching between products in an emergency can be found here.

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