The summer holiday season finally is knocking at the door. Quickly a few T-shirts and shorts are being stuffed into the suitcase and then off to sunny beaches. The holiday planning for patients who depend on temperature-sensitive medication is far less easy and spontaneous. It is vital to plan in advance precisely where the cold chain requiring medication can be stored safely during the trip.
Storing medication safely at home
Patients who are affected by, for example, multiple sclerosis, rheumatism, Crohn’s disease, or who are taking growth hormones are often treated with temperature-sensitive biologicals or biosimilars. At home, the storage of the latter is usually not a big deal. The vegetable compartment in the refrigerator is the right place, since here the temperature fluctuations, unlike in the door compartment, are very low and a constant temperature storage can be ensured. It only gets tricky when it comes to traveling with the medication. On weekend trips, many patients who have to take their medicine once a week plan “round” the drug administration. If it cannot be avoided or if patients have to take their medication more frequently, the drug must travel them. And here is the problem: How can the drug be safely transported to the holiday destination?
Keeping medication cool during travel? A challenge
Cooling temperature-sensitive drugs underway is a challenge, because they must not be transported too warm or too cold. Patients usually use cool bags with ice packs. The latter must be frozen a few hours ahead of the journey in the fridge´s freezer compartment. This of course considerably curbs the patients´ flexibility. Cooling with ice packs is risky, because there is the danger that the drug freezes when it is in direct contact with the ice pack and thereby loses its effectiveness. In addition, such ice packs only keep cool for a certain period of time. A traffic jam in the blazing sun – not uncommon during vacations season – is therefore extremely problematic, because there is no way to “re-freeze” the ice packs. Going on holiday by plane provides just the same problem, especially on long-distance flights. What is important here is that the medication is carried in the hand baggage and is not checked in, since it might get too cold in the aircraft´s luggage compartment. Of course, it is also necessary to clarify in advance whether there is a possibility at the holiday resort to keep the medication safely at an appropriate temperature. One solution would be to put it in one of the fridges of the hotel another to put it in the mini bar (if there is one). There are, of course, great differences in hygiene standards, depending on where in the world one is traveling. Besides, hotel refrigerators are not always functioning. So the storage in the hotel refrigerator is also a risk, at least in some cases, and nothing one should rely on blindly. Planning vacation with temperature-controlled medication requires a considerable logistical effort.
Which medication coolers are there for travelling with temperature-sensitive medication?
The following list of medication coolers that can be used for holiday trips is not exhaustive. In addition, it is not a purchase recommendation, but merely an overview of researched products on the market:
- Cool Safe: The cool bag works with ice packs, yet the drug is prevented from freezing via a special inlay.
- Mini-cooling bags: Designed for small volume transport – not just for medicines. These also work with ice packs that are placed into the bag. There are many different suppliers, among others: TravelSafe, ONEGenug, Goldwheat, Yvonnelee, Be Cool, Kloud city, Ardes
- Frio: Cooling works via water evaporation.
- Dison: The cooling works electrically by battery. Unfortunately, there is no German-speaking website, since the provider is based in the Asian country.
- Definitiv: The cooling works electrically by battery.
Unfortunately, there is no totally satisfactory solution on the market and the patients´ creativity is still required when it comes to safely transporting their temperature-sensitive drugs to their holiday destination.