As high temperatures continue to take hold across southern and central Europe, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging extra precautions on the storage and use of medicines.
Prolonged and sustained heatwaves are occurring more frequently in parts of Europe in recent years. Heatwaves have caused more fatalities in the region in recent decades than any other extreme weather event.
Extreme fluctuations in air temperatures can contribute directly and indirectly to cardiac and respiratory diseases, particularly among those aged 65 and over. However, increased temperatures may also impact on patients as they adversely affect the efficacy of drugs, as most manufactured drugs are licensed for storage at temperatures up to 25°C.
In its Heat-Health Action Plans, the WHO recommends that primary care practitioners counsel patients on the importance of storing medicines in the fridge. In some instances, medication doses may also need to be adjusted during heatwaves. Patients at the highest risk of heat-related illnesses should be counselled on heat illnesses and their prevention. Doctors should also ensure that emergency drugs are stored and transported at proper temperatures.