How to Repackage Over The Counter Meds for Aid Bags and Kits - ITS Tactical

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How to Repackage Over The Counter Meds for Aid Bags and Kits

By Bryan Black

Repackaged Meds 01

For years now, I’ve been repackaging my own over the counter medications for my aid bags and first aid kits. I find that for ease of use and spacial considerations, it’s the way to go.

Who wants to lug around multiple packages or bottles of medications? The only reasons I see to keep the packages would be for dosage information, expiration dates and general knowledge about the product.

Today, I’ll show you how you can still retain all that data and repackage your meds into a few small resealable bags. I’ll also go over the meds I typically carry in my larger aid bag that goes with me almost everywhere.

Update: An addition I’d like to add to clear up any confusion with this article, is that this method is for OTC meds only. Prescription medication (i.e. controlled substances) are best kept as they come with any supporting documentation. Most states require you by law to have a prescription when carrying prescribed medications.

EZY Dose

A few years back, I came upon the EZY Dose Pill Pouches, which are 3” wide x 2” tall resealable bags that come in a pack of 100. What I like about them is that they’re not only small and work perfect for repackaging, but are made with a thick plastic that holds up well to repeated opening and abuse.

Repackaged Meds 02

They’re also great for backpacking toothpaste dots, items in a Dopp Kit and other ways to save weight repackaging items. They’re available on Amazon for around $6 too, which makes them about 6 cents a piece.

Labeling

With all my meds, I like referring to them by their Generic Name, which is kind of a misnomer. Most people typically think of generics as whatever Wal-Mart or another retailer calls the “generic” version of Advil, when in reality, the generic name is Ibuprofen. I’m not saying all retailers have their own naming convention, but some do and it can be confusing.

My purpose of referring to meds by their Generic Name, rather than their Trade Name (Advil) is so it not only helps me learn the generic names, but also ensures I can substitute “generic” versions of those meds in without having to change naming conventions.

For instance, if Advil was cheaper than Motrin when it came time to replace my expired Ibuprofen, I’d then have to change the name on my labels. Causing more confusion.

Repackaged Meds 03

With that out of the way, let’s talk labels. I’ve been using a simple Microsoft Word document to manage my labels for some time now and it works out well for me. My document, which I’ve included here for our Members to download (please sign in first), has some basic information for each of the 7 OTC meds I carry and is something I just print out and cut into strips which get inserted into each EZY Dose Bag.

Contained on each label is the generic name, milligram amount, dosage instructions, expiration date and general usage notes for each of the meds I carry in my Aid Bag, below I get into what I mean by “Aid Bag” too.

As my meds are up for expiration, all I do is open the document I’ve created, change the date, print out a new sheet and cut a new strip to insert into the medication I’m replacing. Something I should mention from earlier is that when I do change the brand of medication I double check to ensure the dosage information doesn’t need to be updated as well.

What Meds to Carry?

As mentioned, I’ve been trying to refer to meds by their generic name rather than the trade name, so what you’ll see listed here are not only the generic name, but to provide some context, I’ve also listed the trade names that I carry.

Repackaged Meds 04

I’ve mentioned that these meds are all over the counter, but Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) is controlled now. This means that it’s still over the counter, but now you have to show your ID, can’t purchase too much and consent to allow the government to track how much you’re buying, but I digress. Thanks meth heads!

The meds you’ll see here are what I feel represent a good balance of what can be carried without a prescription to be prepared in order to cover a wide range of symptoms that might arise with you and those around you.

  • Pseudoephedrine – Decongestant – Sudafed
  • Acetaminophen – Headache / Fever Reducer – Tylenol
  • Ibuprofen (NSAID) – Soreness / Inflammation – Motrin IB
    • *non steroid anti-inflammatory drug*
  • Diphenhydramine – Antihistamine / Allergic Reactions – Benadryl
  • Bismuth Subsalicylate – Stomach / Diarrhea / Dehydration Prevention – Pepto Bismol
  • Meclizine Hydrochloride – Motion Sickness – Dramamine (Less Drowsy)
  • Benzocaine – Sore Throat – Cepacol

My Aid Bag

Repackaged Meds 05

While the ITS Boo-Boo Kit was built as a handy small-sized First Aid Kit and the ITS ETA Trauma Kits are for treating trauma, there’s still a place for what I refer to as my Aid Bag.

While I won’t go into everything I keep in it today, as we’re primarily focused on meds, I’ve been using a current generation TSSI M9 Bag and have been pretty happy with how it’s been working out for me. It’s an expensive bag, but packed full of features. You can also typically find them used if you look around.

There’s an upper mesh zippered pocket that I keep all my repackaged meds and smaller bottled items in and the layout and functionality of the bag has been great.

Repackaged Meds 06

Something I’d like to touch on is consistency. Whatever bag you’re using, be consistent with locations of items, so you either always know what pocket to go to in an emergency, or can describe to someone else where that item is located. That’s also a good argument for labeling those individual compartments.

My Aid Bag sits on a shelf in my garage and is there to grab when I’m heading out. I’ll toss it into my FJ when I’m going on a road trip, camping with my family, or especially anywhere with our Boy Scout Troop. It’s great to have in the same location all the time too, just in case its needed around the house.

While we have a medicine cabinet that contains many of the same things in my Aid Bag, two is one and one is none.

Wrap Up

I definitely have plans in the future to go over my Aid Bag in detail here on ITS. It always seems to be changing in one way or another, but the majority of the contents remain the same.

How about you, what medications do you carry with you to be prepared?

 

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Discussion

  • vettepilot427

    Excellent article as always.  I use these bags to not only flat pack my meds, but also to hold single use cream and ointment packets (Burn Jel, AAA ointment, etc).  This prevents a mess inside my bag should they leak and protects other contents of my kit from the sharp corners of the packets.  It also makes the packets really easy to get at in a small kit since they usually wind up in the bottom or sticking to other components.

    I think it’s important to note that this is NOT an approved way to carry prescription meds.  You could catch grief as being “bagged for distribution” so prescription meds are best left in the bottle with prescription label.

    One thing in addition to this, and it would be a good problem for the minds at ITS to tackle, is some kind of ring binder or organizer for these pouches.  I have quite a lot myself (as you do here) in the family travel kit, and it would be nice to be able to pull out a small binder or organizer to find the meds you need instead of sorting through a handful of small bags.  I considered something like a soft plastics organizer/binder for fishing, but these were way too big.  Maybe a simple binder clip?

    Keep up the great work guys!!!

    • vettepilot427 Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. I second the recommendation for single-use ointments and BurnJel, these are perfect for that too. 
      Couldn’t agree more on this not being a wise idea for prescription medications and just to reiterate to anyone who might read this comment, this specifically addresses over the counter meds and advocates proper labeling.

      Interesting idea on the organizer for these, I can see that being useful for sorting through many bags like this.
      Thanks for the comment!
      Bryan

    • nDjinn

      vettepilot427 You might like the MEDS/IV/IO Bag from Chinook Medical. I use mine for IV, but you can just as easily use it for OTC+ kit. It’s versatile, it has large mesh bags, 20 Vial holder, Comes with ring holder for ALOKSAK bags (and comes with 10x 9×6 bags): http://www.chinookmed.com/cgi-bin/item/01320/MT-TACTICAL_KITS/-MedicationIVIO-Bag-%28TMK-MEDSIVIO%29-

  • PeevedGuy

    vettepilot427 As I was saving this to an Amazon wish list for future reference, Amazon was kind enough to offer the “Lewis N. Clark Am/Pm Pill Organizer” and something else customers bought after buying the bags mentioned in the above article. Maybe that will suit your needs?

    http://www.amazon.com/Lewis-N-Clark-Pill-Organizer/dp/B003MU9K6A/ref=wl_mb_wl_huc_mrai_2_dp

    • vettepilot427

      Hey, this looks like the “Bee’s Knees”. I’ll have to give this a shot. Thanks so much!

  • Thalion143

    I keep a similar assortment of medications in my kit but use coin storage tubes (dime sized) to organize them. This protects the medications from being smashed, allows for easy identification, and are easy to twist open or closed with cold/ nitrile-gloved hands.  For meds that I carry less of I put a cotton ball in to take up the extra space and prevent rattling.
    They also are a near-perfect match to a 12 gauge cartridge which lets you store the tubes in a shotgun shell holder (nylon w/ velcro back for accessibility).
    http://amzn.com/B000PHH2F4

    http://www.skdtac.com/Esstac-Shotgun-Card-p/ess.106.htm

  • Stephanie

    I’ve been doing this for years and I personally do it for prescription meds too. Labels from prescription bottles (and many OTC products) peel off pretty easily and I just affix them to an appropriate sized plastic bag that I get from The Container Store. They sell them pretty cheap. It’s ridiculous how much space is wasted in plastic bottles and that a better solution hasn’t been found in the industry. I use a MedPort bag, although I think the particular model I have is no longer made. It is insulated and is compact enough to throw in a bag or large purse. 

    Maybe I am taking a risk by doing it this way, but it really shouldn’t be up to someone else to say I HAVE to carry around loud, space inefficient bottles for them to figure out I am on the up and up.

  • rpc

    Recent reviews of the EZY Dose pouches are terrible.  When is the last time you bought some?

    • TheWaker43

      @rpc Have not read any reviews recently, so not sure if anything has changed.  But I picked up a pack about a year ago, still have most of them, and they have held up fine so far.

    • Zach

      @rpc I saw those reviews too and decided to pick up “The Pill Bag” brand from Amazon. Received 100 bags for about $8 with free Prime shipping. These bags are nice and have relatively thick plastic.

  • exploriment
  • dustinhollis

    I’ve had a couple aLOKSACK bags fail on me when I used them as my liquids travel bag for air travel. I went to these zipper closed poly (like parachute material) bags that have not failed me yet!
    http://myrume.com/collections/travel/products/reveal-quart

  • GuyDownThere

    Thanks Bryan! I found the EzyDose pill pouches at Wally World (Walmart). 50 ct for $1.38 🙂

    • GuyDownThere Nice! Thanks for sharing, that’s a great deal!

  • drlanders

    Nice article Bryan.  Although Pepto Bismol has been used for years as a universal cure for all gastrointestinal ailments,  you might consider using Zegerid OTC (omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate) for gastritis and reflux and Imodium Multi-symptom (loperamide/simethacone) for diarrhea and gas problems. https://www.zegeridotc.com/zegeridotc/home/faq.jspa  http://www.imodium.com/products-imodium-multi-symptom

    • @drlanders Thanks for the info and the kind words. Why do you prefer the Zegerid and Imodium over Pepto?

    • Stephen Landers

      bryanpblack 
      Bryan:  Zegerid is a combination of a proton-inhibitor acid blocker omeprazole (Prilosec) and a pH antacid sodium bicarbonate which also makes the omeprazole absorb faster.  The Imodium Multi-symptom is a combination of loperamide (Imodium) which slows down bowel contractions and simethacone which breaks up gas bubbles.  The mechanism of action of Pepto Bismol is not well understood.  It does have a coating effect.  The heavy metal bismuth may have some antibactial effect.  Pepto Bismol is a salicylate (similar to aspirin) and may be a problem to individuals allergic to aspirin.

  • Nessy

    Good article, but I would also suggest looking into getting some bulk boxes of individually wrapped OTC pills like this http://www.amazon.com/Medique-Products-80348-Medi-First-Non-Aspirin/dp/B0006GBDYA/ – a box of 250 pill, in 2 pill packages and the pill packs have expiration dates and instructions on each pack. More convenient to dispense and there is no confusion that they’re OTC.  I’m sure it adds a small amount of weight but for applications even smaller than a med bag (altoid first aid kit anyone?) they can’t be beat.

    Also, to keep track of when the OTC meds will expire and need to be replaced, you can use your gmail account’s calendar and set up a reminder that will txt message your phone a few weeks before hand – no need to check a word file if you’re texted a reminder!

    Also, I would move your med bag out of the garage – as you know, heat deteriorates medicines and foods at an accelerated rate – if you’ve got a coat room or a spot near your garage door in plain sight I think that’d be better.

    Good post!

    • @Nessy Thanks for the great follow up, glad you liked the article. 

      I chose not to go the pre-packaged route because our family uses these same meds and I cycle them out a few months out from their exp. dates. Meaning that I move the individual pill bag inside for use in the house and buy new OTC meds to replace what I took out of the aid bag. I’ve never been able to justify spending the money to get 250 of something because the majority would all go bad before I had a chance to use them. That’s like a multi-year supply on something that doesn’t usually have over a 1 – 1.5 year shelf life (if you’re lucky) you never know with Amazon and buying in bulk like that.

      Great tip on the Google Calendar suggestion and I agree on the garage storage. With the frequency of changing out the meds I haven’t worried too much about it, but thanks for brining it up, certainly something to keep in mind!
      Thanks again,
      Bryan

    • Chris Nally

      bryanpblack Bryan where would I get these small bags mate if I live in Australia, they are just what I am looking for ???
      cheers
      Chris

    • Flackqueen

      Chris Nally bryanpblack Just a thought.  There is a similar bag in fabric stores to hold beads and small items.

  • Chris Nally

    Great article especially if you have to carry pure Medical pills and on top of the personal prescription pills….ok anyone any ideas how to get these handy bags for this old soldier living in Australia guys?????????

  • DougR
  • TheresaGaunaSalazar

    Hi. One of the myths that a lot of people believe is that OTC meds turn rancid like food and become poisonous. What I have researched is that these meds can last much longer than the experiration dates state. At the worst in most cases the meds simply lose their potency. What many dont know I’d that the pharmaceutical companies do this so you throw away good meds and buy more.

  • EdwardvanNatta

    I am looking for more information how put together !

  • Cbrn trauma

    What about aspirin? That’s one of the most simple potentially life saving meds. Chew 325 mg at first signs of an MI and it could save your life

  • SkyJensen

    These are some really great tips on how to build a good first aid kit. I liked you tip on labeling the medication that you put it the kit. It’s a really simple thing that people don’t think about and it can be a super helpful thing in emergencies. My husband and I are trying to be prepared in case of a disaster. It seems like have a good first aid kit and getting some other first aid training is one of the best things we can do to prepare. http://swflsc.com/Training%20Courses.htm

  • Evil Queen

    A simple suggestion from the medic truck : on bags that we don’t often use (back up bags, etc) we simply tape a piece of medical tape to the bag with the drug name and the date of the drug that will be next to expire. So if ibuprofen expires 8/15, you replace that and write a new drug on a new piece of tape before 8/31/15. This way you know your bag is good until 8/15, and will it encourage you to look your bag over in search of the next upcoming expiration date every few months.  Also I agree with Nessy; drugs are designed to be kept in temperature controlled environments and can lose efficacy if stored outside of room temp. Thanks for your article. I’d be interested to see what else you carry in your med kit. I’ve recently discovered your site and have been learning tons of useful info!

  • JohnM89

    The meds I have in my kit are tums chewable, Imodium , aspirin and ibuprofen. Basic stuff really. – John

  • toddbstevens

    I have two kits, a blow out bag, and a medicine bag. I usually fill the medicine bag with something similar to this: Sorry ITS for promoting someone else. 
    http://www.chinookmed.com/cgi-bin/item/01332/M-TRAVEL/-Chinook-Medication-Module-

    This pick and chooses, gives us medicine for needs, and many things go into the closet not the kit. But I find buying tis is cheaper than buying indivitual medications. I can buy one of these modules and refil all my kits (car, person, house, camp) cheaper than going to CVS or Walgreens and getting the individual comomoants. Make sense?

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