Want to stockpile on medications? Then you should also know how to store them for extended shelf life, so they will remain useful post-SHTF. Believe it or not, medicines can last for more than 20 years even after their expiry dates, provided that they are well-kept. Here’s how you can store your drugs for extended shelf life.
How Long is Too Long?
Medicines, like food products, have an expiration date on their packaging. They indicate the date beyond which the manufacturers can no longer guarantee full effectiveness or safe usage. Typically, over-the-counter medicines should have a shelf life of about 4 to 5 years, so they should last around long after the date you purchase them.
Once beyond the expiry date, manufacturers of drugs are not responsible for any damage the medicine does to you. They can no longer guarantee the medicine will actually do what it is supposed to do. But does that mean you should throw out your medicines as soon as they reach the expiry date?
Most studies say that some over-the-counter medication remains stable for several years after reaching its expiration date, assuming correct storage procedures have been followed. The average additional extension length is 5.5 years, and some lots could even be extended by more than 20 years.
How to Store Medications
Here are three acceptable ways to store your drugs for an extended shelf life
Keep a dry and dark place for your medications with a sealed opaque box with a couple of sachets of silica gel to be replaced from time to time once they change colors. Many medications can be dangerous if taken accidentally by children or pets, so keeping your medicine box out of the reach and sight of children is very important. Choose a box that has a padlock to keep them safe from kids or anyone else who might accidentally access your medications.
Moreover, keep your drugs in their original containers for storage in order for you to protect them and to ensure nobody mistakes them for different drugs at a later date. It should also be large enough to accommodate the bottles and packages of the medications you are storing.
There are certain drugs that should be stored in the fridge, such as eye drops and insulin. These items need to be in a low-temperature area for many reasons. First, the drug should be kept sterile to avoid bacterial contamination. Second, it could be because of the properties of the medication itself. Insulin, for example, is a protein and is at risk of degrading if it gets too warm.
On the contrary, too much cold could damage your drugs. Freezing can cause insulin to immediately lose its efficacy. So make sure to keep your medications away from the cooling elements at the back of your refrigerator since these spots are usually colder than the rest of the appliance, and can lead to freezing.
Most drugs should be kept at room temperature depending on what the manufacturers recommend. Some have a broad range from 59 to 86°F (15 to 30°C), while others are much more restricted, ranging between 68 and 77°F (20 and 25°C).
No matter what it states, if you wish to guarantee that your medications stay in good condition as long as possible even way past the expiry date, adhere to the recommendations, and ideally find somewhere that sits in the 68 to 77°F range.
Pick a room with a constant temperature to store your medicines in. Bedrooms and the living room are likely to have a more stable temperature than a utility room, garage or attic, but maybe above the recommended temperature range