Storing medicines

Key points about storing medicines

  • Learn about storing your medicine properly to keep it from getting damaged.
  • Where you store your medicine can affect how well it works.
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Storing medicines in kitchen or bathroom not ideal long-term

New research1 finds that New Zealanders commonly report keeping medicines in kitchens and bathrooms, but these storage places should not be used long term for medicines which are sensitive to humidity and temperature.

The study found factors involved in people’s storage choices were convenience, the desire to remember to take the medicines, and child safety.

The research team recorded temperature and humidity in NZ houses and found the greatest extremes were in kitchens and bathrooms. Bedrooms had much less change in temperature.

  • Poor choices include cars, and a backpack
  • Luggage on a long plane flight can also be exposed to even more extreme temperatures in these places.

Researcher Campbell Hewson from the University of Otago’s School of Pharmacy says, “Conditions in kitchens and bathrooms may not comply with recommended storage conditions for medicines given by manufacturers, so they’re not suitable for storing medicines long term.” He also says medicines should not be left in backpacks or cars, especially if they are in the sun.

Some medicines should not be stored in the cargo holds of planes because they get too cold on long-haul flights and may even freeze. “Common medicines that contain protein, such as insulin, can be completely ruined when they get too hot. Temperatures above 60 degrees celius can also affect the packaging of some medicines and we observed temperatures that high in the backpack.”


5 questions to ask about your medications(external link) Health Quality and Safety Commission, NZ, 2019 English(external link), te reo Māori(external link)


1. Hewson, C. et al. Personal medicines storage in New Zealand.(external link) Jnl Prim Health Care. 2013;5(2):146–150.

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