01 March 2013, at 12:00am

JEFF KLUCKERS managing director of Shoreline (UK) explains the importance of storing temperature- sensitive vaccines in the correct vaccine fridge as opposed to a domestic fridge

“WHY can’t we just buy a domestic refrigerator?”

Veterinary professionals often ask us this question, and as the law stands, there is nothing to say that you must store your pharmaceutical products in specialist refrigeration equipment, so the question needs a comprehensive explanation.

In line with the latest changes in procedure and best practice, the features of pharmacy refrigerators are vastly different to those of domestic refrigerators and need to ensure safety and reliability at all times.

Although domestic refrigerators are much cheaper and are ideal to store household goods and food items, they are not designed to hold an even temperature throughout the interior, and in different areas the temperature can fall to as low as 0oC or rise to as high as +10oC.

These fluctuations in temperature can have a devastating effect on stored vaccines and pharmaceuticals, with vaccines becoming deactivated as they freeze or at higher temperatures, their potency being reduced.

With pharmacy refrigerators, the temperature is pre-set to hold +5oC (+ or - 3oC), and an interior fan that circulates the air constantly so that an even temperature is held throughout the interior at all times. In addition, this circulation of cold air allows for the temperature range to recover quickly after door openings.

Another difficulty for the Veterinary professional is ascertaining how best to read the temperature and record it.

Pharmacy refrigerators should have an easily readable digital temperature display on the outside, which will also provide a maximum/minimum temperature memory system and incorporate an audio/visual alarm system should the temperature range fall or rise above the set levels, for example if there is an interruption of power to the appliance.

Theft and misuse of stored pharmaceuticals is an important issue, so look for a door lock to prevent unauthorised access. Also look out for a good warranty – most domestic models will only carry a one-year guarantee at most.

Today’s ranges of pharmacy refrigerators also take into account the need for different sizes of cabinets for the vastly different requirements of veterinary practices. A visit to will show an example of what is available.