Background The proper methods of storage of medicines are of great importance for the maintenance of their stability and therefore their efficacy and safety. Some factors that may affect the drug are: moisture, light, heat, air, time, bacteria and fungal growth.
Purpose The aim of the study is to research household storage habits of oral drugs dispensed by the outpatient hospital pharmacy service.
Material and methods Prospective, observational study. All attendees to the outpatient pharmacy service during a period of 1 month were invited to voluntarily participate in the study. An anonymous survey was conducted including 17 items regarding sociodemographic data, knowledge about package insert conservation information content, conservation of original packaging and leaflet, place of home storage, presence of children at home, review of expiry dates and place where expired medication is discarded. Analysis of the influence of socio-demographic factors on wrong storage practices was performed by Chi-square test.
Results One hundred and eighty-five patients were included. Mean age (±SD) was 56 (±14.7) years. 49.7% patients did not have any studies and 50.3% had secondary or university studies. Sixty-two per cent of patients remembered to have been informed by the pharmacist about storage conditions and 53.1% knew that this information was included in the leaflet. Regarding the place of storage, 36.5% used the bedroom followed by the kitchen (33.7%), living room (36.5%) and bathroom (5.5%). Most of the patients admitted to retaining the original container (70.6%) or leaflet (68.8%). Drugs were generally stored in a closed place (79.8%), nevertheless 47% of patients admitted that it was accessible (26.5% lived with children). Some patients stored medicines inappropriately under cool conditions (9.2%) or near to a heat source (6.5%). Thirty-five per cent kept medicines that were no longer needed and 22% did not check the expiration date. 24.5% of patients threw out their medicines in the rubbish. A relationship between level of education and this behaviour was observed. The wrong practice was more frequent among patients with a high level of studies (p<0.01).
Conclusion A significant proportion of patients presented an information gap regarding drug storage conditions. Several wrong storage practices were identified. There is room for improvement regarding these issues and the pharmacist’s role in patient education could be important.
No conflict of interest
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