When a disaster occurs, donors may ship drugs to the victims as a humanitarian gesture. Problems may arise if the donation is not done properly, or if the sendor uses the disaster as an opportunity to dump unwanted inventory.

Recommendations for drug selection:

(1) The drugs should be requested or approved by the recipients.

(2) The drugs should be essential for conditions or diseases in the disaster area.


Recommendations for drug preparation:

(1) The drugs should not expired within 1 year of receipt.

(2) The drugs should not have special storage or administration requirements that are not available en route or at the final destination.

(3) Individual drug packages should be properly labeled with the generic name, strength, manufacturer, expiration date, and storage requirements. The label should be in a language that can be understood by the recipients.

(4) The drugs should be packaged with inventory management and distribution in mind.


Shipping recommendations:

(1) The drugs should be packaged in containers able to withstand shipping under primitive conditions. The containers should not be overfilled and should contain filler to prevent damage to the contents.

(2) The containers should be able to be opened with simple tools.

(3) The containers should be light enough to be transported easily by 1 or 2 persons (the WHO specifies that the maximum weight should be 50 kg).

(4) Drugs should be kept separate and not mixed with other relief supplies. Green is the international code to indicated medical supplies.

(5) The outside of each shipping container should list the contents. The label should be in a language that can be understood by those involved in the shipping and distribution of the drugs. The label should be resistant to removal and environmental damage.


Dumping involves the shipping of:

(1) outdated or damaged drugs or supplies

(2) inappropriate drugs or supplies that are useless for the disaster

(3) toxic drugs that are expensive to dispose of

(4) drugs whose cost to the donor is less than what can be claimed as a donation

To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.