FDA Offers Information about Drug Use and Safety in the Aftermath of Hurrcaine Katrina
The FDA is providing information on the use of drugs that have been potentially
contaminated by flooding or unsafe water and also the use of temperature-
sensitive drug products that have been involved in a temporary electrical power
Drugs (pills, oral liquids, drugs for injection, inhalers, skin medications) that have
been exposed to flood or unsafe municipal water may become contaminated. This
contamination may lead to diseases that can cause serious health effects.
FDA recommends that drug products - even those in their original containers -
should be discarded if they came in contact with flood or contaminated water. In
the ideal setting, capsules, tablets, and liquids in drug containers with screw-top
caps, snap lids, or droppers, should be discarded if they are contaminated. In
addition, medications that have been placed in any alternative storage containers
should be discarded if they have come in contact with flood or contaminated
In many situations, these drugs may be lifesaving and replacements may not be
readily available. For these life-saving drugs, if the container is contaminated but
the contents appear unaffected — pills are dry — the pills may be used until a
replacement can be obtained. However, if a pill is wet, it is contaminated and
should be discarded.
Children’s drugs which have to be made into a liquid using water (reconstitution),
the medicine should only be reconstituted with purified or bottled water. Liquids
other than water should not be used to reconstitute these products.
Some drugs require refrigeration (for example, insulin, somatropin, drugs that have
been reconstituted). If electrical power has been off for a prolonged period, the
drug should be discarded unless it is absolutely necessary to sustain life (for
If contaminated product(s) are considered medically necessary and/or would be
difficult to replace in a time-sensitive manner, you should contact a healthcare
provider (for example, Red Cross, poison control, health departments, etc.) for
guidance. If you are concerned about the efficacy or safety of a particular
product, contact your pharmacist, health care provider or the manufacturer’s
customer service department.
NCPIE encourages healthcare professionals and community groups to foster patient–professional communication about medicines. However, NCPIE does not supervise or endorse the activities of any group or professional. Discussion and action concerning medicines are solely the responsibility of the patient and their healthcare professionals, and not NCPIE.
Please consult a licensed health care professional with questions or concerns about your medication and/or condition.