If you are prescribed a medication, you trust that it will work the way it is supposed to. However, you may find that this is not always the case. A number of different factors can affect the potency of a drug. Knowing about them can help you avoid a loss of pharmaceutical effectiveness.
To the extent possible, store your medications in their original packaging. Medical package testing ensures that the materials will protect the contents for a reasonable amount of time.
2. Storage Conditions
Some medications lose effectiveness when exposed to certain temperature extremes or other weather conditions, such as humidity. It may help for you to store your pharmaceuticals in a closed medicine chest where the temperature is constant rather than out in the open where they may be exposed potentially destabilizing conditions.
Medications can lose their effectiveness with age. Not only that, but their chemical structure can break down over time, leaving them not only ineffective but potentially harmful. Most medications come with an expiration date printed on the label. Be sure to check this before taking any pharmaceuticals and replace those that have expired.
4. Human Error
Sometimes it is not a problem with the medication itself, the storage, or the packaging. Rather, it is that human beings have made a mistake in administering the medication. When human error affects the working of a drug, at least one of three situations has likely taken place:
- The doctor prescribed an inadequate dosage.
- The pharmacist made a mistake in filling the prescription.
- The patient is not taking the medication according to instructions
5. Other Factors
Sometimes it is not that you, your doctor, or pharmacist made a mistake. It is that other conditions are present that change the way your medications work. For example, branded medicines have different formulations of ingredients that affect potency and digestibility, which makes researching each brand on a website like The Nutrition Insider a factor to consider. Some of these conditions may be beyond your control, like the presence of comorbid disorders. Others are lifestyle choices, such as habits or diet, that involve behaviors that you can modify.
When in doubt, don’t take a medication that has expired or is not working properly. Consult your doctor instead about a replacement prescription or other options.