August 25, 2011
The earthquake that sent tremors up and down the east coast earlier this week, combined with Hurricane Irene bearing down on the Outer Banks, has many people wondering what to do with lifesaving medications, such as insulin, in the case of an emergency such as a flood or power outage. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement on how to handle medications in emergency situations.
It is vital for citizens to know when to properly dispose of drugs that have been exposed or not properly stored. The FDA has said unless the drug is lifesaving, throw it out if contamination is the least bit suspected. However, in the event of an emergency situation and the contaminated supply is all a patient has access to, the story could change.
If a container of vital medication has been exposed to contaminated flood water and it is the only supply available, the FDA says open the container, if the pills are dry it is okay until new medication can be obtained. If they are wet, throw it out.
In the event of a power outage, medication that must be refrigerated could be affected. Insulin, for instance, has a shorter shelf life if unrefrigerated. If an outage occurs, keep the storage area closed and cold as long as possible. The FDA says use the drug until a new supply can be obtained to replace the old drug.