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Pharmaceuticals Exposed to the Space Environment: Problems and ProspectsThe NASA Human Research Program (HRP) Health Countermeasures Element maintains ongoing efforts to inform detailed risks, gaps, and further questions associated with the use of pharmaceuticals in space. Most recently, the Pharmacology Risk Report, released in 2010, illustrates the problems associated with maintaining pharmaceutical efficacy. Since the report, one key publication includes evaluation of pharmaceutical products stored on the International Space Station (ISS). This study shows that selected pharmaceuticals on ISS have a shorter shelf-life in space than corresponding terrestrial controls. The HRP Human Research Roadmap for planetary exploration identifies the risk of ineffective or toxic medications due to long-term storage during missions to Mars. The roadmap also identifies the need to understand and predict how pharmaceuticals will behave when exposed to radiation for long durations. Terrestrial studies of returned samples offer a start for predictive modeling. This paper shows that pharmaceuticals returned to Earth for post-flight analyses are amenable to a Weibull distribution analysis in order to support probabilistic risk assessment modeling. The paper also considers the prospect of passive payloads of key pharmaceuticals on sample return missions outside of Earth's magnetic field to gather additional statistics. Ongoing work in radiation chemistry suggests possible mitigation strategies where future work could be done at cryogenic temperatures to explore methods for preserving the strength of pharmaceuticals in the space radiation environment, perhaps one day leading to an architecture where pharmaceuticals are cached on the Martian surface and preserved cryogenically.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Jaworske, Donald A. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Myers, Jerry G. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
March 23, 2016
Publication Date
March 1, 2016
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Chemistry and Materials (General)
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 444543.01.02.12
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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