11 May 2010
Airconditioning A Must in Stores to Ensure Drugs are not Exposed to Heat That can Make Them Inert
Pharmacies across the state will not get fresh licences unless they are fully airconditioned and their billing system fully computerised. The existing shops should have these facilities when they apply for the renewal of their licences, according to the directorate of drugs control.
“These shall be the basic requirements to have a pharmacy in the state. We will not be closing down any existing pharmacy that does not have an airconditioner. But we would insist they have them when they apply for the renewal of their licences, which are given once every five years,” director of drugs control M Bhaskaran said. The state has over 40,000 pharmacy outlets and every shop submits an application for renewal of licence every five years.
The heat during the summer, he said, could expose medicines to dangerous temperatures that could potentially degrade them and make them ineffective. Most drugs, including the commonly used antibiotics, require to be stored in temperatures below 25 degrees Celsius.“In most shops that are not airconditioned, several storage rules are violated. The storage shelves are not always cool or dark. The awareness is low and no one checks for the right storage rules. Worse, even if they know, there is nothing much customers can do because air conditioning was never mandatory for a drug store,” Bhaskaran said.
Pharmacy owners like Apollo Hospitals say an airconditioned environment can even clear contaminants–bacterial or viral–brought in by the movement of people or materials.“Besides the need to store medicines in a clean environment, pharmacies are places where people with suppressed immunity come in. Air–borne infections can be harmful. An air–conditioned environment will filter air and also prevent such infections,” said S Harish, who owns an air–conditioned medical store in West Mambalam.
The department will also insist on computerising inventories and bills.“We have now made it mandatory for all pharmacies to give computerised bills with batch number, date of expiry and maximum retail price,” Bhaskaran said. The department will also kickstart an awareness campaign urging consumers to insist on a detailed bill.“This will help us track spurious drugs in the market,” he added.
The department, he said, had been initiating action against pharamacists at these shops along with their owners.“We find that pharmacists who are appointed for the drug store don’t stay in the shops during business hours. The boys appointed by the shops are not qualified enough to handle business. This is one reason why scheduled drugs are dispensed without prescription and expired drugs are sold. So far, action was initiated only against the pharmacy owner. Now, we have decided to initiate legal action against pharmacists as well,” he said.
Maintaining The Health Of Medicines
- Most drugs are recommended to be stored at controlled room temperature at 25 °C
- Insulin has to be stored in refrigerator (2–8 ° C). Expose it to room temperature only before injecting it. In–use vial should be put back in refrigerator. Never let vials freeze
- Vaccines should be stored at 2–8 °C
- Summer heat can potentially degrade your drugs and make them ineffective
- If you take prescription medication, watch out for unusual symptoms that may suggest your medicine isn’t working
- Check the storage information for any medication
- Do not store drugs in the kitchen as temperature there is higher. It’s always better to store drugs in wooden shelves, in cool, dark and dry places
- Don’t keep drugs in car trunk or dashboard.
- While in flights, keep them with you
- Extended power outage? Check with your pharmacist or doctor whether your medication should be replaced