VERIFY: Are there health concerns with mail order prescriptions in the summer heat?

Verify: How safe are mail order prescriptions?

Ken Fagerman wrote into the Verify team after pulling his mail order prescriptions out of his mailbox on a 91-degree-day. 

It left him wondering-- does this harm my medication? Fagerman took precautions and sent the medication back and called Express Scripts, his provider. Fagerman said he was told by customer service that, "as long as the capsules weren't sticking together or melted," then they are "ok." 

Fagerman found this to be an odd response, so he turned to us. Our verify team got to work using information from a local pharmacy owner and requirements set by the Federal Drug Administration. 

The main issue with medication exposed to higher temperatures is a loss of potency. 

"Potency would be the issue, if there is one," Koelzer said.

Koelzer said as far as health hazards, there's no definitive research proving that medication kept in excessive temperatures (cold or hot) can create an actual health concern. He chalks up the varying answers on this topic to the differing circumstances, temperatures and type of medications.

But it is worth noting that the FDA requires companies to mail prescriptions in proper packaging that allows it to be kept in the recommended temperatures.  

"If you have choices-- its always better to stick with medication that you know has been kept at the correct temperature. As oppose to a 105 degree mail truck or mailbox," said Koelzer. 

So we can Verify that while there is no definite health hazard, extreme heat, humidity and even cold temperatures can affect the potency of your medication.

If you have concerns with your own mail order prescriptions it is best to reach out to your provider and see what steps they take to protect your medication. 

VERIFY: Sources

Mike Koelzer, Kay Pharmacy

Federal Drug Administration

VERIFY: Resources

READ: FDA PRESCRIPTION REQUIREMENTS

READ: UNITED STATES PHARMACOPEIAL CONVENTION
 

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