Left Zoloft In A Hot Car

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses if Zoloft is safe after being left in a hot car.

Left Zoloft In A Hot Car
Apr 15, 2019

Greg asked

This might sound like a silly question, but I recently picked up my prescription of Zoloft and it says to store below 77 degrees. However, I left my 90-day prescription in the car and it was about 85 degrees outside so it would've been warmer inside the car. It wasn't for a prolonged period of time but would something like that affect the prescription to where it is less effective or not effective at all? Thanks!

At a glance

  • There is no information available regarding the stability of Zoloft (sertraline) if stored outside of the recommended temperature range. However, most studies indicate that a temporary excursion at high temperatures is more likely to affect the dosage form (i.e. the tablets) as opposed to the actual drug.


Hot Car Interior With Text - Zoloft In A Hot Car

Leaving medication outside of the recommended storage conditions can certainly be concerning.

However, the concern lies mostly with liquid medications, biologics, medications that must be refrigerated (e.g. insulin) and with those known to be susceptible to degradation.

Most studies state that non-refrigerated solid dosage form drugs (e.g. Zoloft tablets) are not likely to be greatly affected by a temporary excursion outside the recommended range.[1]

However, the actual dosage form (e.g. tablets or capsules) may be compromised. There is a chance that conditions like high temperature and humidity could accelerate the decomposition of the dosage form (i.e. the tablet may crumble more easily or a gelatin capsule may begin to melt).

The problem is that without specifically testing your medication (that was left in the hot car), we don't know whether or not it has degraded and therefore, is potentially less effective. It most likely is safe to take, but we can't make a definitive determination.

Zoloft Storage Requirements

Per the prescribing information for Zoloft, it should be stored as follows:[2]

  • Store Zoloft tablets and oral solution at 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). Short-term excursions are allowed at temperatures from 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F).

Seeing how your prescription was left in an enclosed car with the outdoor temperature around 85°F, they almost certainly were exposed to temperatures inside the car above 86°F.

We have fairly extensive information on how temperature affects some drug products, like insulin, which degrades quickly if stored improperly.[3] This isn't the case for Zoloft. Unfortunately, there is no data available regarding how Zoloft tablets may be affected if left at too high of a temperature.

The good news is that Zoloft is not known to be especially susceptible to temperature variations and doesn't need to be refrigerated. It likely isn't going to be significantly affected by being at a high temperature temporarily.[4]

As discussed in the above section, the larger concern is likely that the dosage form (i.e. the tablet) may be compromised. The tablets may crumble, dissolve or otherwise fall apart more easily so be sure to take care when handling them.

Final Words

Although your Zoloft most likely won't be less effective in this situation, we can't know for sure based on the lack of information available.

For peace of mind, you may want to check with your pharmacy to see if you have an additional refill that can be used. You may also want to check with your pharmacy to see if they have any additional information for your particular product.

  1. ^ Stability Testing of Pharmaceutical Products. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science
  2. ^ Zoloft Prescribing Information. AccessFDA
  3. ^ Insulin structure and stability. PubMed
  4. ^ Keep in a cool place: exposure of medicines to high temperatures in general practice during a British heatwave. PubMed

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