In our Ask the Vet column, Dr. Lydia Gray answers your horse-health questions at HorseChannel.com/AskTheVet. Got a question for Dr. Gray? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and use subject line “Ask the Vet.”
Q: Can I keep pain medications like Bute and Banamine in my tack room or will they go bad? It’s not heated or air conditioned, but it’s insulated and we keep it closed up so it doesn’t get quite as hot or cold as the rest of the barn.
Is it safe to store medications in the feed room at your barn?
A: What a great question! As a veterinarian, I see prescription medications kept in all sorts of interesting ways in barns and homes, some of which are appropriate and some of which are not. Pharmaceuticals are most stable in dry, cool places away from light, which fits the description of most tack rooms. But . . . you really should read the labels to know how to properly keep each product so that they retain potency because the instructions between them can be very different.
For example, even different formulations of Banamine (flunixin meglumine) have different storage instructions:
- Banamine Injectable Solution: Store between 36º and 86º F
- Banamine Paste: Store below 77º F
And check out these instructions for “bute” (butazolidine):
- Phenylbutazone Injection: Store in a refrigerator between 36º – 46º F
- Phenylbutazone Paste: Store at 59º – 86º F
Here are the storage instructions for two popular joint medications:
- Adequan i.m. Multi-Dose: Store at 68º – 77º F, excursions permitted to 59º – 86º F
- Legend Injectable Solution: Do not store about 104º F.
I think everyone knows not to keep medications in their truck or trailer because those locations can get both very hot and very cold. And that vaccines need to be kept in a refrigerator that can maintain the “cold chain” from manufacturer to distributor to retailer to consumer until the vaccine is administered. By the way, while researching this topic I learned that the FDA recommends refrigerators be kept at 40º F or below (just not as low as 32º F which is freezing) and that the little “dorm-style” mini fridges with tiny freezer boxes are not very reliable at maintaining a specific temperature.
Agencies like the FDA recommend that you keep a thermometer in your refrigerator to make sure it stays at the correct temperature. That’s not bad advice for your tack room as well! By using a thermometer, you can confirm that the location you’ve chosen to store your horse’s medication in gets neither too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter and can have peace of mind that it will remain potent at least to its expiration date. Regardless, any drugs, especially injectable drugs, that look cloudy, discolored, or have formed crystals or solids should be discarded. As always, ask your veterinarian if you have any doubts.