Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Excessive Heat Can Harm Medications, Expert Says

 HealthDay news image
Don’t travel with meds in your car trunk or leave them in a parked car, she advises
From the 20 August 2011 Health Day news article

SATURDAY, Aug. 20 (HealthDay News) — Medications can be harmed by high temperatures, say pharmacists.

Although just a handful of drugs have been tested at temperatures above 86F, all medications could be altered by extreme heat, they warn.

According to Dr. Amy Peak, clinical pharmacist and director of Drug Information Services at Butler University, several medications have been tested at high temperatures. She outlined some of the changes the researchers found:

  • Albuterol inhalers: The container could burst at temperatures above 120F. Moreover, when stored at high temperatures, there may be a decrease in the amount of medication inhaled.
  • Concentrated epinephrine: Cyclical heating could reduce 64 percent of the medication’s potency.
  • Diazepam: Concentration of this drug dropped 25 percent when stored at 98.6F.
  • Formoterol (capsules that are placed in inhalers): Following four hours of exposure to 158F heat, the amount released from the capsules was less than half the normal amount.
  • Lorazepam: When stored at 98F, concentration decreased 75 percent.
  • Mometasone (formoterol inhalers): Temperatures above 120F may cause the container to burst.

Peak says several more medications may be susceptible to excessive heat, including:

  • Insulin: Excessive heat could make the insulin less effective. It could also cause the insulin vials to explode.
  • Thyroid hormones: Thyroid hormones could be altered by excessively high temperatures, resulting in inconsistent doses.
  • Any medications in aerosolized canisters could burst when exposed to temperatures above 120F.

Although the United States Pharmacopeia Convention Inc. recommends that medications be protected from excessive heat, only a few drugs are actually tested at temperatures above 86F, Peak pointed out.

Nevertheless, she noted there are a number of steps people can take to ensure the quality of their medications during heat waves, including:

  • Be aware that temperatures inside cars can top 160 F. When driving, be sure to keep medications out of the trunk and in the climate-controlled passenger compartment.
  • Never leave medications in a parked car.
  • During heat waves, have medications shipped overnight in special cooled containers.
  • Request a one-time replacement from your insurance company or drug manufacturer for any medication that may have been affected by excessive heat.

SOURCE: Butler University, news release, August 2011

August 22, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pillbox Beta helps one to identify pills (solid medications)

Pillbox Beta: Rapid Identification, Reliable Information

Need help identifying your medications? Pillbox can recognize over-the-counter and prescription pills by their imprint, shape, color, size, and score marks. This web site is under development by the NLM, NIH, and HHS. (Please note that as of press time, Pillbox is up and running but is still being tested in beta format.)

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , | Leave a comment

FDA Asking Consumers to Weigh-In on Drug Information

Apologies for this late posting…

From a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) item

Right now, consumers may get as many as three types of written information with prescription medications—a Consumer Medication Information sheet developed by the private sector and voluntarily given to patients; a Patient Package Insert, labeling that’s developed by the drug maker or private vendor; and a Medication Guide, required labeling for some drugs that FDA believes pose a “serious and significant” public health concern.

FDA is proposing that medication information leaflets be streamlined into a single, FDA-approved Patient Medication Information sheet that would be given to the patient the first time a prescription is filled and for subsequent refills.

But before anything happens, FDA is asking consumers for feedback at a Sept. 27-28 hearing at FDA offices in Silver Spring, Md. Complete details about the hearing are posted at At the hearing, consumers and organizations will be able to weigh-in on more than a dozen questions related to prescription drug information for consumers, including

  • Should the medication information be given to patients if the medicine has been administered in a health facility?
  • How can the process be monitored to ensure patients are receiving the information?
  • What accommodations are needed for special populations, such as the elderly, vision impaired, low literacy, and limited or non-English proficient?
  • Should there be a process for monitoring distribution of the information?
  • What functions should FDA and drug makers perform?

To learn more about FDA’s effort to streamline prescription drug information, please see theFederal Register notice, which was posted Aug. 27.

Anyone interested in attending the hearing should see details posted at

For those unable to attend, the meeting can be viewed on the Internet using Adobe Connect Pro from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Webcast participants will not be able to ask questions.

Join the meeting by using the following links: on September 27 on September 28

If you have never attended an Adobe Connect Pro meeting before, test your

September 26, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

FDA Drug Safety Information by IPhone

From the Medwatcher site (a project of Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, and the University of North Carolina)

Stay up to date with the latest news and government safety alerts for the prescription medicines you take. Submit any side effects you experience to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make drugs safer for everyone.

MedWatcher is a mobile tool for both healthcare professionals and the general public. Anyone can submit an adverse event report to FDA using the easy-to-use form on MedWatcher, or post to our online community to talk to others taking the same meds. In the MyDrugs section, you can make a quick list of all the prescription medicines your family or patients take and track the latest developments.

Clinicians will find MedWatcher to be a vast improvement over the paper and fax FDA MedWatch form. No more cramped text boxes or tiny font! Do it at your convenience and fulfill your professional obligations in a convenient way. Get your patients involved in their health.

Take control. Participate in your health care.

September 22, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , , , | Leave a comment

Drug Reactions (A New MedlinePlus Health Topic)

From the Medline Health Topic Drug Reactions

Most of the time, medicines make our lives better. They reduce aches and pains, fight infections, and control problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes. But medicines can also cause unwanted reactions [including interactions with other drugs, foods, supplements, and diseases].

Always ask your health care provider what you need to avoid when you start taking a new medication. Also, if you do take medicine, do not start a new over-the-counter drug without first checking with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Drug reactions topics include links in the following areas
** Overviews
***Specific Conditions
**Patient Handouts

August 27, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | | Leave a comment

Pregnancies and Medicines

[From Pregnancies and Medicines]

“During pregnancy, any medicines you take, including over-the counter or prescription drugs, herbs, or supplements, can get into your baby’s system. Some medicines may be safe, but many are not. The decision about whether or not to take a medicine depends on the risks and benefits. You and your health care provider should make this choice together. Labels on prescription and over-the-counter drugs have information that can help with the decision.

Always speak with your health care provider before you start or stop any medicine. Not using medicine that you need may be more harmful to you and your baby than using the medicine.”

A Women’s Health Web Page includes great overview on this topic in Q&A format.

Additional Information at Pregnancies and Medicines includes Specific Conditions (as aspirin and flu shots), Patient Handouts (on many individual drugs), and Directories (as Find a Teratrogen Information Service to find answers about exposure questions during pregancy).

The Pregnancies and Medicines Web Site (part of MedlinePlus) includes information

August 6, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | Leave a comment

FDA releases risk summaries for newer drugs

[From a news item at]

“U.S. health officials  have started releasing summaries of safety reviews for recently approved medicines as part of their efforts to inform doctors and consumers about potential side effects.”

“A 2007 law required the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) to prepare a safety summary for certain prescription drugs 18 months after approval or after they have been used by 10,000 people, whichever comes later. Those summaries will now be posted on the FDA website.

On Tuesday, the agency released summaries for 24 medicines and two vaccines for hypertension, allergies, HIV and other conditions. It included details on what action the agency was taking.”

These Postmarketing Drug Safety Evaluations are part of the Surveillance activities of the FDA.

July 6, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment