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The peculiar conditions away from the earth, including weaker gravity and higher radiation, could be to blame, says new research by NASA’s Johnson Space Centre.
On earth, medicines retain their effectiveness for a couple of years from the date of manufacture, but only after they are stored away from sunlight or in a cool, dry space.
With longer space missions increasing the need for astronauts to take medicines, the study authors investigated whether the unique environment of space — including radiation, vibrations, microgravity, a carbon dioxide-rich environment and variations in humidity and temperature — affected effectiveness of the drugs, reported the Daily Mail.
Four boxes of drugs, containing 35 different medications, were flown to the International Space Station, while four identical boxes were kept in controlled conditions at the Johnson Space Centre.
The boxes came back to earth after varying lengths of time in space from just 13 days to 28 months, and were checked for effectiveness.
‘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,’ the study said.
They need to build a better shelf.