Proper storage helps to ensure safe and effective use of medicines.
Store Medicines Properly
Medicines should always be kept away from children in a cool, dry place, protected from light and refrigerated when necessary. Improper storage can affect the effectiveness and shelf life of your medicine. The following are important medicine storage principles.
Keep it Cool, Dark and Dry
Medicines should be kept in a cool, dry place and protected from light.
- Exposure to light, heat and moisture can accelerate break down of medicines, which may reduce their efficacy or cause superficial changes, e.g. discolouration.
- In a warm and humid country like Singapore, appropriate storage is thus particularly important.
Read the Label
It is good practice to read the label or leaflet that comes with your medicine as it may require special storage conditions.
Liquids in the Fridge Please
Liquid formulations, such as syrups and suspensions, can support the growth of micro-organisms.
- As microbial growth is inhibited by refrigeration, liquid preparations without preservative should be stored in the fridge.
- For medicines that require refrigeration, please store in an area within the refrigerator that maintains consistent temperature.
Preservatives Stay Out of the Fridge
Conversely, effectiveness of preservatives increases with temperature. Therefore, preserved preparations should not be refrigerated, unless specified by the manufacturer. An example is Cetirizine oral solution that contains parabens as preservatives.
Keep Away from Children
Medicines should always be kept away from children.
- Poisoning incidents in children are often attributable to accidental ingestion of medicines.
- These are usually preventable if medicines were stored appropriately.
- Therefore, medicines should always be kept in a locked drawer/cabinet or in higher areas beyond the reach of children.
* Medicine that has changed colour, consistency or odour should never be used regardless of expiry.
References: Lowe R.A. Storage, stability and in-use shelf-life guidelines for non-sterile medicines (2001) ConsumerMedSafety.org