[ RadSafe ] Fw: Drugs lose effectiveness in space

Dimiter Popoff didi at tgi-sci.com
Mon Apr 18 07:34:05 CDT 2011

This caught my curiousity - the one of a layman, I only design
and make MCAs etc. equipment. Clearly the "radiation" link is
vague - it would depend on dose, you know - the text says,
but I thought others here might also find this curious and
perhaps someone would be knowledgeable and in a mood to talk :-).


Dimiter Popoff               Transgalactic Instruments


Complete article:

Drugs lose effectiveness in space
By James Gallagher Health reporter, BBC News

 Astronauts on long space missions may not be able to take paracetamol
to treat a headache or antibiotics to fight infection, a study
has found.  Scientists at the Johnson Space Center have shown
that the effectiveness of drugs declines more rapidly in space.
 Continuous doses of radiation onboard spacecraft may be to 
blame, according to the study published in the AAPS Journal.
 The authors said longer missions have increased the need for
drugs in space.  On Earth, medication is typically designed to
be stored for a couple of years from the manufacture date. 
They normally need to be kept in precise conditions, such as
away from direct sunlight or in a cool, dry space.

 The research team investigated whether the unique environment
of space - including radiation, excessive vibrations, microgravity,
a carbon dioxide rich environment and variations in humidity
and temperature - affected drugs' effectiveness. 
Space trip
 Four boxes of drugs, containing 35 different medications, were flown
to the International Space Station.
 Four identical boxes werekept in controlled conditions at the
Johnson Space Center.
 The boxes came back to Earth after varying lengths of time in space.
One was there for just 13 days, whereas another spent 28 months
on the space station.
 The study concluded: "A number of formulations
tested had a lower potency after storage in space with consistently
higher numbers of formulations failing United States Pharmacopeia
potency requirement after each storage period interval in space
than on Earth.
"This reduction in potency of flight samples 
occurred sooner than the labelled expiration date for many 
formulations suggesting that storage conditions unique to the
spacecraft environment may influence stability of pharmaceuticals
in space".
  Dr Colin Cable, science information adviser at the
Royal Pharmaceutical Society, said: "On Earth, medicines are
tested to assess the effects of, for example, temperature, 
moisture, oxygen and light, and are packaged and stored to 
ensure they remain stable and effective over their shelf life.
 "Repackaging of medicines into containers that do not give 
the medicines the protection required to moisture, oxygen and
light can have a detrimental effect on their stability."
  He added that radiation was known to affect medicines, depending
on the dose used.  
 "One potential benefit of keeping medicines in a Space Station
is that the medicines will be exposed to a carbon dioxide-rich
environment, this may help minimise the degradation of those
medicines prone to oxidation, such as adrenaline, vitamin C
and vitamin A." 

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