In the midst of pulling out summer clothes, having the air conditioner checked and opening the pool for the season, I ordered our prescriptions from our provider. Within a week the temperatures had topped a hundred degrees and our drugs had arrived. With the postal delivery of our mail order prescriptions another summer tradition has begun: can we get to our mail box before our drugs heat up.
This has been a concern of mine ever since we relocated from the East to Arizona. Manufacturers recommend the maximum temperature for their products but our southwest summers will typically far exceed that number and the temperature inside our mail metal mail box soars. (If we were still back East we would be worried about the cold, especially after a winter like this past year.)
Most drugs may be expected to lose some of their potency when unprotected from a wide variance in temperature. But with increasing growth of mail order providers of prescription drugs, the question of quality in packaging becomes more relevant. Many drugs manufacturers request that their products be stored at room temperatures; while some will give a temperature range that the drugs should not go below or exceed. We have yet to come across a recommendation that gives approval to our high summer desert degrees or the exceedingly cold of a winter polar vortex.
Consumers using a mail order service should not only be aware of what they have been prescribed, the physical side effects and interactions with other medications but also with the storage temperatures recommended by the manufacturers. (Package inserts will give this information.) Leaving drugs in a hot car or postal truck for hours as well as mail boxes may be just as detrimental to the potency of the medication.
In years past, when contacting our mail order provider about my concerns, very little progress was made in obtaining answers to my questions. But this year my persistence paid off and my mail order provider has indicated that from now on all our drugs will be sent with packaging adjusted to fit the weather. In addition, they agreed to send our drugs with “signature request”, thus ensuring they would not be left in a hot mail box. I did go on to ask what about all of their customers who are receiving prescriptions; here there was no answer. So, without strong, concise, direction from the FDA, it is up to each consumer to contact their individual provider and request mail order packaging that will protect their drugs during extreme weather conditions.
Jacqueline E. Hamilton