Posted by pinksharkmark (22.214.171.124) on July 27, 2000 at 17:19:32:
I know that those of you who have insurance companies with unreasonable limitations on the amount of Imitrex and other drugs they will allow often refill your prescriptions year-round and stockpile the excess for the next cycle. Here are some tips for making sure they stay potent enough to be effective when the next cycle hits. This is particularly useful for those whose cycles occur spaced several years apart.
To begin with, I have been assured by several sources (pharmacists, chemists, doctors, researchers) that as a medication ages, it breaks down into simpler components. This is why it loses its effectiveness, and is the reason why most (not all) medications have an expiration date on them. They do not transform into harmful or poisonous substances, they simply become less potent.
Secondly, the expiration date is a conservative one. If, for example, the expiration date is two years from the date of manufacture, the med is almost always just as effective at three years of age, provided it has been stored as suggested.
The four main agents of decomposition are heat, oxygen, light, and humidity. That is why you almost always receive your prescription in a dark brown bottle (to keep out excess light) with a little pouch of silica gel tossed in (to keep out excess moisture) and instructions to store in a cool, dry place.
These precautions are normally sufficient to keep the medication at its proper strength until it is past its printed expiration date, but it is possible to extend its shelf-life far beyond that with a few easy tricks.
First, get an airtight container, such as a canning jar (mason jar) or a Rubbermaid or Tupperware kind of container with an airtight snap-on lid. I prefer a mason jar since it seals more effectively. Next, obtain a commercial drying agent such as anhydrous calcium chloride. This is sold in almost any building supply place. It is routinely used to dry out musty or moldy closets and such before repainting. It is sold under several different brand names. Third, get some dry ice. Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide (CO2). Ice cream vendors (the ones that peddle around on those little tricycle-type buggies) use it to keep their wares from melting as they make their rounds.
Take a section of pantihose and pour in enough of the drying agent to make a ball about the size of a golfball. Tie a knot in the pantihose and drop the "golfball" into the airtight container. Next, take a chunk of dry ice about the same size and toss it in the container. Leave the top off! As the dry ice evaporates, the container will fill with carbon dioxide. Since the CO2 is heavier than air, it settles at the bottom and gradually displaces all the air until the container is full of CO2. When the dry ice is completely gone, dip a lit match just below the surface of the container. If it goes out immediately, you'll know that you used enough dry ice to fill the container completely with CO2.
You now have a sealable environment that has no oxygen and no humidity. Slowly (so as not to swirl up the CO2, allowing it to escape) place your precious meds in the container, and carefully seal the top. Wrap the container in a few layers of aluminum foil, or paint it black to keep out light. Store it in the coolest place you can find (but NOT a freezer or refigerator!), and.... voila! The shelf-life of your meds has been at least doubled, probably quadrupled.
It is not necessary to go to all this trouble with Imitrex injectors, since the liquid in the injectors is already in a sealed environment... just keep them in a cool, dark place.
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