24 April 2015

NSW Health is urging those who rely on medicines which require refrigeration and have suffered from power outages during the recent NSW storms, to seek advice from their doctor or pharmacist if they are unsure of whether to continue taking them.

Deputy Chief Pharmacist with NSW Health, Bruce Battye said many people may have questions related to refrigerated medicines with areas of the State experiencing power cuts since early this week.

"Some medicines require storage in a refrigerator at a temperature of between two and eight degrees centigrade," Mr Battye said.

"Examples of such medicines include vaccines, insulin, thyroxine tablets and some re-constituted antibiotic medicines for children.

"If electricity has been cut off for an extended period and as a result the integrity of refrigerated medicines has been compromised, the medicines concerned should be discarded and new medicine obtained.

"However, if a medicine is essential to sustain health, such as insulin, it is recommended people continue using it until a new supply is available".

"Because temperature sensitive medicines lose potency (effectiveness) if they are not refrigerated, they should be replaced with a new supply as soon as possible.

"In the case of insulin for example, if it is not refrigerated it has a shorter shelf life than the expiry date shown on the package.

"NSW Health strongly recommends that if medicines have been contaminated by floodwater it is not to be taken under any circumstances as it is not safe for consumption.

"If anyone has specific concerns about the safety of a particular medicine please contact your pharmacist or doctor or call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 for guidance."

For more information please visit Maintaining health during and after floods and storms.