Prescriptions drugs in space degrade the same as on Earth according to a new study analyzing medicine returned from the International Space Station.
Nine small stocks of a variety of medicines sent to the International Space Station crew have been returned to their departure point. Taking advantage of the moment, a team of researchers with the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas and home of the Center for Space Medicine and Department of Pharmacology took the opportunity to study how prescription drugs are affected by storage in space.
The medicine stack included some pain relievers, as well as alertness drug and sleeping pills, antidiarrheal and antihistamines. Following careful examination, the research team concluded that prescription drugs in space degrade the same as on Earth. Being stored on the International Space Station for a 550-day period did nothing to affect the composition of the chemical composition of the medicine of hurry their degradation.
Drugs degrade over a period of time, thus the expiration date present on all boxes and blisters. Their degradation is a chemical process involving a number of factors including exposure to oxygen or to light. However, what the scientists were interested in was how drugs stored in space react to microgravity or when exposed to radiation.
Of the nine drugs that were returned to Earth from the International Space Station most were already past the expiration date. Nonetheless, they were tested to see how they comply with the United States Pharmacopeia standards. It turns out they tested just as medicine stored on Earth would. No difference was found.
The study bears important findings however. While the International Space Station may be regularly resupplied, the same will not be possible for other longer exploration missions. As such, knowing how different medicines react over a longer period of space storage is of utmost importance.
The results of the study feature in the AAPS Journal.
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