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Pharmacies are Taking a Hard Look at Best Practices for Temperature Control

When a prescription gets filled we all expect the medication to be as safe and effective as possible. The same principle applies to our food. Here, however, we can usually see or taste whether the foods we purchase are fresh, past their expiration date or spoiled. With pharmaceuticals this is often not the case.

Most of the medications I purchase are in pill, tablet or capsule form. They require proper storage and handling generally specified by the manufacturer. But how can I be sure these regulations and practices were met?

Until recently such questions were seldom asked. It was assumed pharmacies did their best to meet safe storage and handling guidelines and the drugs we took would help make us well or feel better. More importantly the drugs would not hurt us, make us sicker or worse. Maybe we were more trustful or expected pharmacy operators were our neighbors and friends and therefore have an extra incentive to do no harm. In today’s era of national chains those who we interact with at the stores are still our neighbors. However in our litigious society with a pill for every illness expectation, no one person, regardless of how well meaning they may be is able to insure the drugs we purchase are safe and effective, or at least not harmful. There are too many chances for errors in the global supply chain to guarantee 100% success.

What’s a pharmacy operator or manager to do? The good news is there are several things that help to make things as safe and effective as possible. Among them are the following.

1. Deal with quality suppliers and distributors
2. Obtain quality reports from manufacturers
3.Obtain storage and handling reports and logs from distributor
4.Automatic logging of drug product deliveries including expiration date(s) and storage conditions
5.Proper temperature storage practices and equipment
6.HVAC system maintenance, storage area temperature logs, alarms
7.Refrigerator and freezer maintenance, temperature logs, alarms
8.Monthly log summaries for refrigerated medications and food products
9.Incident reports for out of range temperatures including disposition of the products stored inside
10.Corrective action report to help prevent future problems when needed
11.Monitoring supplier reports relating to product recalls, incident reports
12.Professional training regarding changes in regulations, best practices.

This series will explore the requirements and best practices of temperature monitoring in pharmacies and focus on the list above, providing a discussion about regulatory requirements, practical, low or no cost suggestions as well as technology based solutions for best practices. The focus will be insuring the safety, quality and efficacy of the medications and food products pharmacies supply to their customers, which best serves all in the end.

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