A new study conducted by researchers at the Pharmacology Department from the Baylor College of Medicine, United States explains why medicines don’t expire in space. It appears that space conditions meet all storage requirements that medical experts impose for certain medicines.
According to the presentation that investigators have made on the scientific paper they have published in the AAPS Journal, the sample medicines were kept on the International Space Station for a given period of time and then, returned on Earth, where they have been subjected to a series of tests. The medical tests that have been conducted were in accordance with the standards of the 2012 United States Pharmacopeia (USP).
Scientists have selected some of the most popular medicines because they wanted to know how these behave in space. Thus, they have added antihistamines, sleeping pills, alertness drugs, painkillers, antidiarrheal drugs and decongestants on their list of tested medicines. They have chosen these particular medicines because they are the most used among astronauts and it is important to understand how they work.
Russia’s Progress spaceship was the one that transported the medicines in space, according to scientists’ declarations. They have spent 550 days on the ISS, the time interval that researchers believe to be enough for the degradation of the pills.
After close analyses, researchers have concluded that medicines have the same expiration date in space as they do on Earth. Most of the samples were still in a good condition months after they expired.
Medical experts have noticed that most drugs met the USP regulations even five months after their expiration date. Only one sleeping pill was labeled as expired, according to the results of the tests and even so, the state of the medicine was not at all degraded.
Scientists have all agreed that space conditions make medicines expire at a much later date than on Earth. However, they are aware that the current research was only limited and that more accurate and comprehensive studies are required to thoroughly understand why medicines don’t expire in space.
Medical experts do not recommend astronauts to consume medicine that have gone beyond their expiration dates. Although these appear to be in keeping with general requirements, they can still harm users.
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