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Summer sun can impact medication's effectiveness

Heat's impact on the medicine you take
Posted at 6:26 PM, Jun 22, 2018

Summer's here, and as things heat up there's something you want to watch out for. Heat can affect medication you take, and there's a surprising place you don't want to store your meds.

Khal Frisch, like most of us, looks forward to the sunny days of summer. While she may not have a problem being out in the sun, she knows her EpiPen might.

"So I have some reactions to some fruits and it can be in a lot of different things so we carry it," Frisch said. "I carry one in my purse. We leave one in my car when it's cold out not when it's summertime."

Doctors say taking meds out of a your hot car and leaving them in a cool place is something we should all do this summer, even with over the counter drugs many of us use every day.

Yamel Irizarry is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at Kaiser Permanente, and says the sun can break down a medication chemically and physically.

"It can have a huge impact and can degrade your medications," Irizarry said. "It will reduce the potency of the medication which in turn will not make it work as well as it's supposed to."

And Irizarry says with medications like EpiPens, insulin, or in this example antibiotics, the consequences can be dire.

"It's not potentially going to work as well," Irizarry said. "It might not actually even clear out the bacteria, so you still have an infection.  And two it might actually increase the risk of that medication not working for you in the future."

So, if not in a hot car on a windowsill, where should you leave your medication? Well, not where you might think.

"So, there's a medication cabinet in our restrooms right? " Irrizary said. "Probably should not be storing our meds there because it does get hot, it gets steamy. So, both the heat and the moisture from that can affect your medication integrity."

Unless it needs to be refrigerated, she suggests you store your medicine somewhere cool and dry, like a drawer in your nightstand.

Enjoying the sunny days of summer meant for you, not your medication.