| March 22, 2024 | Medi-Products

What to Know About Pharmacy Medication Refrigerators

A functional, safe (and cold) pharmacy refrigerator is the unsung hero of the healthcare industry. Proper cold storage enables facilities to effectively manage the cold chain—from the moment medicine is manufactured until its finally administered to a patient.

The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommends pharmacy medication refrigerators as the primary method for storing vaccines and other pharmaceuticals. They do a far better job of meeting vaccine storage requirements than a standard consumer fridge by keeping consistent and safe temperatures. Thus, they ensure that the vaccines are safe to administer to patients by largely avoiding temperature excursions.

This article discusses what you need to know about pharmacy medication refrigerators and the benefits you will enjoy when you use them in your facility.

What are the Most Popular Kinds of Medical Refrigerators?

There are two main types of refrigerators in the healthcare industry: pharmacy refrigerators and laboratory refrigerators. These refrigerators supply the benefits of being completely hygienic and thoroughly dependable in terms of temperature control. With current models even go as far as offering automatic defrosting or forced-air refrigeration.

Laboratory refrigerators are often used to store samples and reagents and must keep a constant temperature. This way, they minimize the risk of cross-contamination and/or the explosion of volatile materials. Using an in-built fan that circulates air inside the unit, they do this to keep the temperature uniform.

In addition, this fan is configured to stop when the unit door opens to prevent frigid air from escaping. Laboratory refrigerators also have separate compartments to prevent cross-contamination, as they can also be used for storing vaccines.

Pharmacy refrigerators are more typically used to store medicines and vaccines in better conditions. They provide many benefits for their users, such as reliable cooling and temperature stability. The units also come fitted with an alarm signal for a power outage or when the unit door is left open.

With this alarm, facility staff can effectively check the temperature inside the unit and keep it from rising. Furthermore, pharmacy refrigerators have an automatic defrosting system that prevents temperatures from going below 0oC and a locking system that prevents unauthorized access to sensitive medicines.

Pharmacy Medication Refrigerator
Pharmacy Medication Refrigerator

Why You Should Keep Your Vaccines and Medicines in A Pharmacy Medication Refrigerator

Pharmacy medication refrigerators have key features that make them an excellent choice for healthcare facilities. These features include:

Effective Temperature Monitoring and Control:

The recommended temperature range for storing vaccines and maintaining the cold chain during the transportation is 2oC to 8oC (per the DIN 58345 standard. However, this range is relatively small, and only pharmacy medication refrigerators can maintain it accurately and reliably.

Additionally, pharmacy medication refrigerators come with ultramodern thermometers that record temperatures inside the vaccines and the fridge unit.

Protecting Inventory with Temperature Excursion Alarms

A temperature excursion is defined when an item falls outside of CDC recommended range of 2oC to 8oC (35.6-46.4 degrees Fahrenheit). To prevent these from occurring and damaging the potency or safety of medications, Pharmacy medication refrigerators are often equipped with temperature sensors and “cold control” alarms that sound if the refrigerator temperature falls outside this range.

The benefits of this feature makes pharmacy medication refrigerators a must-have for healthcare facilities to both protect patients and the inventory itself—which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to replace in some cases.

Newer refrigerator models come with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, which allows the cold chain of stored samples to be traced in its entirety.

For example, a refrigerator using RFID technology will be able to record the storage temperature of a vaccine and the time it enters and exits the refrigerator. In addition, a computer search is performed if the vaccine is needed for an immunization exercise.

An LED indicator on the label of selected vaccine vials flashes to show staff which vaccines are intended for use. The user with access rights to the refrigerator then takes out the selected vials. Any unused vaccine is then returned to the refrigerator, which will automatically record the length of time the vaccine in question has been out of the refrigerator.

Ease of Use with Glass/Solid interior Doors

Pharmacy medication refrigerators typically come fitted with either a glass door or a solid door. Refrigerators with glass doors provide facility staff with an unrestricted view of the fridge's interior. With this, they do not need to open the fridge door when taking stock of leftover inventory. Thus, they reduce the frequency of door opening and the risk of temperature excursions.

Refrigerators with solid doors do not grant an unrestricted view of the unit's interior, but this can be a security advantage. If you would rather that the contents of your refrigerator are kept private, this unit is for you. The solid doors keep the unit's content out of view, and it also gives you the ability to control who has access to the unit.

Additionally, they come with different numbers of doors ranging from one to four, allowing the compartmentalizing of your unit's contents and keeping a constant temperature all the time.

Flexible Configurations/Sizing

Pharmacy medication refrigerators come in varied sizes, allowing you to pick a size that works best with the space available in your facility. They come mainly in cabinet sizes and occasionally in chest sizes.

However, regardless of size, a refrigerator or freezer with grated shelving is non-negotiable. The gaps between grates will ensure optimal air flow. This allows for a more even distribution of cold air—making hotspots less likely to form and lowering the risk of losing inventory.

Cold Chain Maintenance and Best Practices

Maintaining the cold chain for vaccines and medication is non-negotiable, and recent technological developments have taken significant strides in improving this. Refrigerator manufacturers are developing more models to support the cold chain and respect the environment.

One of such developments is the solar-powered refrigerators without batteries, which are lifesavers in rural areas and developing countries. Solar-powered refrigerators are a welcome development in areas such as this, where there is limited or no access to electricity or frequent or extended power outages. They use solar energy to freeze water and then use the stock of ice to keep the refrigerator cold overnight or on cloudy days.

The Best Way to Protect Your Pharmaceutical Refrigerator

A vaccine/medical refrigerator’s main goal is to provide a stable environment for the vaccines stored in them. But what if they no longer receive the power they need and stop working? A battery backup power system can be added to supply even greater stability and added assurance.

An unexpected an extended power outage can suddenly put your entire inventory at risk. In fact, we’ve received calls from customers who waited until after they’d lost nearly $75,000 in medical inventory to install backup power for their a Medi-Products battery system is fully customizable and ready to meet your facility's backup power needs—including systems that can provide backup power in excess of 24 hours.

Our product learning center features videos and articles explaining everything you need to know about:

All you need to do is contact our team today to size the perfect system.

They'll simply ask you for photos of your appliances and how long you wish to run them on backup power. Once received they’ll respond as quick as possible—often the same day—with the perfect custom-built system for you.

Battery Backup for Vaccine Refrigerators and Freezers.

Our powerful battery backup systems will instantly power multiple appliances during a power outage. These custom sized systems can provide power for up to 72 hours of runtime!