Travelling with your meds is pretty straightforward; however, keeping a few things in mind can make the experience run more smoothly and provide more time at your destination to do the things you’d rather be doing!
I’ve put tens of thousands of miles on the odometer every month with AVONEX and I’ve learned a few tricks when travelling with medicines that need special treatment. I hope some of this is useful to you on your next trip!
Knowing Your Temperature Requirements
First, let’s review the requirements that Biogen Idec Inc ., the manufacturer of Avonex, publishes on its website avonex.com:
“When refrigeration (36-46ºF) is unavailable, AVONEX prefilled syringes can be stored for up to 7 days at room temperature (up to 77ºF). AVONEX also comes in a powder form that can be stored even longer at room temperature—up to 30 days…Do not expose to high temperatures. Do not freeze.”
In general, these temperature requirements are not difficult to maintain. However, on occasion you might be exposed to unexpected high or low temperature spikes. According to the Biogen any exposure to a temperature greater than 77º F (25ºC), or less than 36ºF (2ºC), destroys the medicine.
I use the vials (powder form) as opposed to the prefilled syringes. The vials are more temperature tolerant in terms of the number of days they can stay at room temperature. My opinion is that this works when on the road. Naturally, your choice depends on what is most convenient for you.
Preparing for Your Trip
When making your travel arrangements, you can take care of many potential problems before you even leave the house. Here are some things to do before you walk out the front door:
Travelling on the Airplane
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are travelling to and from the airport, as well as when you are riding on the airplane:
Arriving at the Hotel
You generally have a few options when you get to the hotel. If you are going to be there until it’s time to travel home, then you may not need to refrigerate your meds. Just make sure that the room is never over 77ºF for any longer that 7 days or 30 days (prefilled syringes or vials, respectively). If you will use up your medicine before you travel again, then just keep your meds in a cool place in the room. Be careful not to store them where they will be in direct sunlight (solar heating!) or anyplace else that will get warm. For example, I once discovered that a counter top in my room was surprisingly warm, when I investigated I discovered that the cupboard below it enclosed a mini bar that was exhausting its heat under the counter—making the counter just like a hot plate!
If you have a number of stops in your journey, the most important task on arrival anywhere is to make sure you can refreeze the gel packs for the next destination. Here are some things to remember:
In addition to the gel packs, I used to hand over my meds as well with instructions to freeze the gel packs and keep the meds in the cooler. However, handing over both requires additional coordination and, in the end, seemed unnecessarily complicated. Also, anything you give away can get lost. Now, I keep the medicine in my room in a mini bar or in my suitcase. I refreeze the gel packs in my room if a freezer is available, or in the restaurant freezer, if an in‑room freezer is not available.
If you decide to put your AVONEX in a fridge or mini bar in the room, use some care. Make sure the fridge is not too cold. Is there bottled water in the fridge? Check to see if the bottle water is frozen, if not, you are good to go. If the fridge is empty, put a tiny bit of water in a glass and put the glass in the fridge—if it is not frozen in a few hours, it is probably OK. I spoiled three doses of AVONEX once because I put the meds into a refrigerator that was turned down too cold (I didn’t notice the bottled water was frozen until it was too late).
It is really all much simpler than it sounds. With a little experience you will be a seasoned expert. If you have any comments, additions, questions, or good ideas, don’t hesitate to add them here!
About the Author:
John Steiner is a pilot and an MS patient who is constantly traveling around the world. He corresponds with us regularly about the trials he faces while on the go as a person diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
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