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Traveler Advisory: University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Offers Tips on Storing Medication While on Vacation

PITTSBURGH, May 13, 2002 โ€” As the travel season starts to kick into high gear many vacationers look forward to lying on the beach, hiking in the mountains or traveling to a foreign country. Whether you travel far and wide or just to the nearest vacation destination, be sure to make arrangements to have your medicine nearby at all times.

"A trip can be instantly spoiled when you realize your medicine is lost," says Nicole Ansani, Pharm. D., associate director of the Drug Information Center at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. To prevent your medicine from making a detour while on vacation, here are some tips to avoid disaster:

Before your trip, make a list of all the medicine you will need.

  • Pack your medicine in a carrying case or purse that you will keep in your possession rather than a suitcase that will be handled by someone else (i.e., airline attendant, hotel bellman, etc.)
  • Store your medicine in a cool, dry place. Some medicine can easily lose its potency if exposed to excessive heat, sunlight and humidity.
  • Keep an extra supply on hand at all times in case you have extended layovers.
  • Have your pharmacist's and prescriber's phone number handy in case you lose your medicine. Also, know the generic name of the medicine you are taking in case you need to relay this information to an unfamiliar pharmacist.
  • Be aware of time changes. Keep a separate watch with you and have it set to your usual time so you can remember when to take your medication. ยท Be sure to pack medicine for those common travel maladies such as diarrhea, headaches and allergies.
  • Check with your pharmacist before your trip about possible drug interactions with medications for motion sickness.
  • For those who travel out of the country, make sure your vaccinations are up to date. Check the Centers for Disease Control's website to see what vaccinations are recommended for the country you will be visiting or to see if there are warnings about any public health concerns.
  • If your medication requires you to use a syringe, you may need to carry your prescription with you to ensure that you can pass through the airport's security.
  • Also, make certain you are prepared for the climate you will be embarking upon. "Always plan wisely," says Ansani. "If you are going to be spending an extreme amount of time in the hot sun, wear sunscreen, preferably a high sun protection factor (SPF) product. Make sure you have enough for the entire trip and practice sun-safe measures such as wearing appropriate clothing. If you will be in the woods, carry enough insect repellant and allergy medicine. Most important, know how to use these products. Read the instructions carefully and follow directions for proper dosage. For those prone to allergic reactions, carry an antihistamine (i.e. Benadryl) with you at all times and avoid unfamiliar foods."

More information on travel tips is available at the CDC's website at www.cdc.gov or, the American Society of Health System Pharmacists' website at www.safemedication.com.

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