A dangerous combination: Heat and your home-delivered prescriptions

Hy-Vee pharmacies in Quincy require meds to be dropped off in person and not left at the door.

This summer's heat can be detrimental to your daily medications if you're not aware of where they're stored. Heat can affect the way medicine performs, often making it useless to you if it gets above a certain temperature.

This has become a problem with prescription mail and home delivery systems. Many medical insurers require their customers to purchase their medicine from central suppliers as a cost-saving measure. But if your medication sits in a mailbox or on your porch for too long, you can experience some serious side effects.

Hy-Vee pharmacies in Quincy require meds to be dropped off in person and not left at the door.

"We try to deliver when we know the patient is going to be there, but I know that's not always possible with their mail order prescriptions," Melissa Harbin, the Harrison Hy-Vee pharmacy manager said. "We've had patients who've had their packages on the doorstep for a day, or overnight, not realizing it was there through the mail, and had issues with prescriptions."

The issue becomes very serious for diabetics who take insulin.

"It could be detrimental to the effectiveness of the drug," Harbin said.

It's also true for people who take seizure medication, antihistamines and blood pressure medications.

"If a patient would get a mail order prescription, or something sent through the mail, even from their local pharmacy, insulin is not going to stay good for very long if it's left outside in extreme heat," Harbin said.

Harbin says every pharmacy and pharmaceutical company handles their deliveries differently. Some may pack dry ice with their prescriptions while others may come in a heavily lined envelope. Neither would hold up to triple-digit temperatures.

"Other things we have to be concerned about are capsules and gel caps. They will actually melt into a glob in a bottle if they're left in too high of temperatures for very long," Harbin said.

It's cause for concern with any of your medications.

"We get one or a couple every two weeks just inquiring how long a prescription can be left out of the refrigerator. And with every drug, it's different. Some antibiotics for kids can be left out for days and not be an issue. Some can't be left out for more than 10 minutes and it's an issue," Harbin said.

Harbin says you should call your local pharmacy if you think your medication has been exposed to too much heat. You should never keep any medication in your car or in a room without air conditioning. If you do not have air conditioning, keep your meds in front of a fan.