One reader in Los Angeles during the recent heat wave wrote me to say "I didn't become aware that the extreme heat had compromised the potency of my pills until I started feeling really lousy a few days later."
If you take any prescription drug, you need to be aware that storage at high temperatures can quickly degrade the potency and stability of your medication. I spoke with Abbott Labs' consumer medical hotline today, and learned that they do not recommend taking their drug Synthroid if it's been stored at temperatures above 86 degrees.
Basically, "controlled room temperature" for storage of most drugs tops out at 86°F. Levothyroxine drugs-- such as Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothroid, Unithroid, and generic levothyroxine -- should be stored away from light and moisture, and at a temperature no higher than 86°F. This temperature standard also applies to Cytomel (liothyronine), Armour (desiccated thyroid), and the antithyroid drugs PTU and methimazole. (NOTE: Thyrolar (liotrix) should be refrigerated, at a temperature no higher than 46°F.)
If you are in one of the areas of extreme 90-degree-plus heat, and do not have air conditioning in your home, you've flown with medication in the luggage comparment, you've traveled with your medication in a hot car, or you have experienced a power outage at home or at your pharmacy, you probably need to replace your medication.
Your first step? Talk to your pharmacist and see what he or she recommends.
Your next step should be a call to your health insurance company, who may reimburse you for a replacement prescription.
Finally, Synthroid's consumer hotline suggested that it's possible -- not guaranteed however -- that Abbott and other drug makers may be able to offer some form of reimbursement for damaged medications, so if you get nowhere with your pharmacy or insurance company, you may want to contact the manufacturer as well.
Keep in mind that these guidelines don't just apply to thyroid medications. You should be sure to check the storage instructions for any prescription medications you take, and talk to your doctor and pharmacist right away about any drugs exposed to higher temperatures.