One of the biggest favors we can do for ourselves is practice preparedness in different aspects of life. This is especially true when it comes to healthcare. There are many common household goods we keep around our home in case of accidents: bandages, acetaminophen, or Benadryl, to name a few. 

One thing you may not have thought to keep on hand, though, is an emergency supply of prescription meds and antibiotics. Having both on hand is incredibly useful in many situations, such as natural and manmade disasters, medication shortages, supply chain disruptions, and foreign travel. 

Consider what happened when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. This natural disaster was devastating for residents in many ways—and unexpectedly for some. In addition to a lack of food and infrastructure, and other property and environmental damage created by the storm, general healthcare was markedly unavailable. Many hospitals and healthcare access centers were destroyed following the hurricane and those that stood firm were overwhelmed with patients in need

Although it may not be an idea that crosses our minds regularly, tragedies such as this can happen anywhere at any time. Being without prescription medicine can make a bad situation worse and in some cases even life threatening, but thankfully this is completely preventable by using services like mygotodoc to request life saving medications to have on hand.

Just in time supply chains have clearly been negatively impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. You may have noticed that supply chain shortages are affecting the production of common electronics that we rely on, such as parts for vehicles and computers. 

Similarly, many of the lifesaving medications we rely on are actually produced outside of the United States. For example, as of 2022, common antibiotics such as amoxicillin, azithromycin, cephalexin, ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, and metronidazole are imported into the U.S.—primarily from relatively unfriendly and/or unreliable countries such as China and India. Even when prescription medications are produced within U.S. territories, many of them are produced offshore in Puerto Rico; the Hurricane Maria disaster greatly impacted the export of these medications into the mainland U.S. and would have led to severe shortages had the more distant supply chains been similarly disrupted. 

As you can imagine, these types of supply chain issues—whether caused by natural disasters, pandemic lockdowns, trade disputes with other countries, or myriad other factors—can greatly impact the availability of medication, which can be disastrous in times of need. 

Aside from natural disaster-related incidents, there are other circumstances that can affect your ability to readily access medication. Several bioterror attacks, such as the anthrax spread in 2001, have occurred in the past. The effects of such attacks are terrible to experience, and when treatment is delayed, or inadequate, they can lead to lifelong illness or even death. Smallpox, anthrax, plague and tularemia are all considered serious bioterror threats and have a death rate of 30-50% on average. Though there are no readily available smallpox treatments the mygotodoc.com antibiotic medkits do cover anthrax, plague and tularemia.

As it stands, the U.S. is not currently equipped to handle a bioterror attack or widespread bioterror threats. Although the U.S. does keep a stockpile of antibiotics that can be used for treating these agents, there is not currently enough available to be distributed throughout the entire country. And, as previously discussed, access to or general availability of these medications could easily be disrupted at any time due to unforeseen events.

Foreign travel is another instance where it’s incredibly useful to have prescription antibiotics on hand. Imagine a situation in which you are traveling out of the U.S. and an accident or illness strikes. Depending on local circumstances, certain medications may be difficult to impossible to obtain.

An additional consideration is the standard of care in other countries. In less developed countries, you may not be accustomed to or comfortable with the available standard of care. The last thing anyone wants to worry about when traveling is medical treatment in a foreign setting. 

Outdoor activities, such as hiking or backcountry camping, are perhaps the most relatable experiences of all. These types of activities frequently result in accidents, and while many are minor in nature, it is best to be prepared. Having prescription antibiotics readily available in your first aid kit can be helpful for preventing the development of a serious infection. 

But what about expiration dates and loss of efficacy with long-term storage? Have you heard that antibiotics “go bad”, or that you’re not supposed to keep them for long periods? As it turns out, this is a widespread misconception. 

Prescription antibiotics remain very efficacious even after long-term storage. Studies by the U.S. government and other researchers have demonstrated that when these medications are stored in a cool dry place, especially in an airtight container (easily available online), these medications show 90% efficacy even after 20 years of storage.

Emergency preparedness is one of the best things you can do for yourself. And although prescription medications can at times be hard to access, they don’t have to be. Having prescription antibiotics readily available in your home helps you prepare for any situation, whether it be a medical emergency or an event that disrupts access to medical care in a time of need. 

The benefits of having an emergency supply of antibiotics and backups of other prescription drugs include peace of mind that you’re prepared for any eventuality, but perhaps the most important benefit of all is the ability to take the preservation of your life and health into your own hands. 

Dr. Syed Haider