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J Travel Med. 2006 Jan-Feb;13(1):35-47.

Drugs and drug administration in extreme environments.

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Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.


Emergency medicine must often cope with harsh climates far below freezing point or high temperatures, and sometimes, an alternative to the normal route of drug administration is necessary. Most of this information is not yet published. Therefore, we summarized the information about these topics for most drugs used in medical emergencies by combining literature research with extensive personal communications with the heads of the drug safety departments of the companies producing these drugs. Most drugs can be used after temperature stress of limited duration. Nevertheless, we recommend replacing them at least once per year or after extreme heat. Knowledge about drugs used in extreme environments will be of increasing importance for medical personnel because in an increasingly mobile society, more and more people, and especially elderly -often with individual medical risks-travel to extreme regions such as tropical or arctic regions or to high altitude, and some of them need medical care during these activities. Because of this increasing need to use drugs in harsh climates (tourism, expeditions, peace corps, military, etc) the actual International Congress of Harmonization recommendations should be added with stability tests at +50 degrees C, freezing and oscillating temperatures, and UV exposure to simulate the storage of the drugs at "outdoor conditions."

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