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Can weather affect mail order drugs?

Can weather affect mail order drugs?

Yes, it’s a reasonable concern, especially if you live in an extremely hot, cold, or rainy region of the U.S. That’s because most drugs are designed to be stored at room temperature and protected from moisture and sunlight.

Extreme temperatures and moisture can quickly break down the drugs’ ingredients, either damaging them or causing them expire to before their official expiration date, says Geoffrey C. Wall, Pharm.D., Professor of Clinical Sciences at Drake University. That means they might be less potent or ineffective, and could even make you sick. And with very cold temperatures, it’s possible for crystals and other solids to form in certain liquid and injectable drugs.

Most mail-order pharmacies are aware of extreme weather’s affect on medications, says Wall, and will try to prevent damages to a your drugs, including overnight shipping or shipping medicines with ice packs during the summer months. But mail-order pharmacies can’t plan for every situation. If you’re planning to be away from home for an extended period, a call to the mail-order pharmacy alerting them and asking to change the delivery date could help avoid the problem.

Finding the right pharmacy: Is mail-order right for you?

If you suspect your medications have been damaged during transit—if there’s a changed color, texture, or smell, are stuck together, are harder or softer than normal, or are cracked or chipped—don’t take them. Instead, contact the mail-order pharmacy that shipped them immediately. “If it’s a critical medication that you’re running low on,” advises Wall, “contact the provider who prescribed it and ask if a new supply could be prescribed and filled at a local pharmacy.” And be sure to ask the pharmacy about proper disposal of the damaged drugs.


—Ginger Skinner


Related information:


Can some drugs make me more sensitive to the sun?

Find the right pharmacy

Do some drugs make me more susceptible to the summer heat?

This article and related materials are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multistate settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2006-2014 Consumers Union of U.S.

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