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Don't Store Medicines In Kitchens and Bathrooms

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners

Media Release
31 May 2013

Don't Store Medicines In Kitchens and Bathrooms, Says New Research

New research published in the Journal of Primary Health Care finds that temperature- and humidity-sensitive medicines should not be stored long term in kitchens and bathrooms, even though these are the most commonly reported storage places for medicines in New Zealand.

The study found people’s choice of where to store medicines was influenced by convenience, their desire to remember to take the medicines, and child safety. Few people considered temperature or humidity when deciding where to store medicines.

The research team recorded temperature and humidity in New Zealand houses and found that both were high and had greater extremes in kitchens and bathrooms when compared to other places in the house where medicines might be stored, such as bedrooms. The team also looked at mobile storage locations for medicines, which included a car, a backpack and in luggage on a long plane flight. They found medicines could be exposed to even more extreme temperatures in these places.

Researcher Campbell Hewson from the University of Otago’s School of Pharmacy says, ‘Conditions in kitchens and bathrooms may not comply with recommended storage conditions for medicines given by manufacturers, so they’re not suitable for storing medicines long term. Also, medicines shouldn’t be stored left in backpacks or cars, especially if they’re in the sun. Some medicines shouldn’t be stored in the cargo holds of planes because they get too cold on long-haul flights and may even freeze.

‘Common medicines that contain protein, such as insulin, can be completely ruined when they get too hot. Temperatures above 60oC can also affect the packaging of some medicines and we observed temperatures that high in the backpack.’

The research paper, called ‘Personal medicines storage in New Zealand’, has been published in the June issue of the Journal of Primary Health Care, which is on the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ website at


Full contents list of the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Primary Health Care
From the Editor
The path towards perfect practice
Felicity Goodyear-Smith

Guest Editorial
The public health implications of secondary measles vaccine failure
Mary Ramsay, Kevin Brown
Quantitative Research
Previous vaccination modifies both the clinical disease and immunological features in children with measles
Peter Mitchell, Nikki Turner, Lance Jennings, Hongfang Dong

The impact of patient and practice characteristics on retention in the diabetes annual review programme
Rawiri Keenan, Janet Amey, Ross Lawrenson

Qualitative Research
Mental health promotion for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex New Zealanders
Jeffery Adams, Pauline Dickinson, Lanuola Asiasiga

Understanding barriers to glycaemic control from the patient’s perspective
Ron Janes, Janet Titchener, Joseph Pere, Rose Pere, Joy Senior

Miscommunication between patients and general practitioners: implications for clinical practice
Sonya Morgan

Mixed Method Research
Is it time to talk? Interpreter services use in general practice within Canterbury
Kara Seers, Lynley Cook, Gillian Abel, Philip Schluter, Paul Bridgford

Short Reports
Transient ischaemic attack and stroke risk: pilot of a primary care electronic decision support tool
Annemarei Ranta
Large increase in opportunistic testing for chlamydia during a pilot project in a primary health organisation
Sunita Azariah, Stephen McKernon, Suzanne Werder
Personal medicines storage in New Zealand
Campbell Hewson, Chong Chi Shen, Clare Strachan, Pauline Norris
Abortion services in a high-needs district: a community-based model of care
Simon Snook, Martha Silva

Back to Back
All people should wear sunscreen or other protection for their skin whenever they are exposed to sunlight
Yes: John Kenealy

All people should wear sunscreen or other protection for their skin whenever they are exposed to sunlight
No: Ian Reid

Continuing Professional Development

String of PEARLS about preventive measures for cardiovascular disease
Cochrane Corner: Amitriptyline satisfactorily relieves pain in only a minority of patients with fibromyalgia
Megan Arroll

Vaikoloa: Keeping promises, measuring results: the Pacific Maternal and Child Health Indicators Project
Fiona Langridge, Teuila Percival, Lani Stowers

Nuggets of Knowledge: Sedating antihistamines in children—not a good choice
Linda Bryant

Potion or Poison? Coenzyme Q10
Shane Scahill

Professional accountability of doctors in New Zealand
Katharine Wallis

The New Zealand Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring: a source of practice-based evidence
Ruth Savage

Book Review
Doctor Colenso, I presume: An account of missionary medical practice in New Zealand in the midnineteenth century—Ian St George
Reviewed by Derek Dow

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor


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