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Keeping Shipped Meds Cool

With summer heating up the Northern Hemisphere, get tips on how to keep infused medicines at the right temperature.

package left at the door step

This week, temperatures soared to historic levels in parts of the United States. Europe, too, has already had a heat wave. With so much of summer still ahead, it’s a good time to think about how to protect you medicines from scorching heat.

Patients are an important link in the chain when it comes to keeping medicines properly stored, said CSL Behring’s Associate Director of Medical Education Deirdre Smith said. They’re on the receiving end when these temperature-sensitive products are delivered to their homes.

The Immune Deficiency Foundation offers specific advice for how to receive medicine by mail, such as checking that cold packs shipped with medicine are still cold.

Smith recommends that patients take these two steps:

  • Always look at the prescribing information to find out the safe storage temperatures for a medicine.
  • Call the pharmacy, healthcare provider or the manufacturer to ask questions.

Manufacturers produce infusion therapies by following a careful, exacting process that doesn’t stop when medicines leave the plant. Shippers, such as FedEx, must also keep the products cool so they arrive in good condition at their destinations – pharmacies, hospitals and patient’s doorsteps.

CSL Behring handles thousands of product-related inquiries every year and a portion of those are about “excursions” – an industry term for when a product does not follow its intended path, Smith said. For instance, what if your medicine gets dropped off at your neighbor’s house and sits out on a hot day?

If you’re unsure a product is still effective, set the product aside and call the pharmacy, Smith advised. Do not throw it away, she said, because it will be useful in figuring out what happened.

Between the pharmacy and the manufacturer, they should be able to reconstruct the product’s path and determine if you should use the product or return it for a replacement. Everyone in the chain will want to understand what happened, whether the medicine is still effective and how to prevent problems in the future, Smith said.