Supplying a pharmacy for NASA exploration spaceflight: challenges and current understanding

NPJ Microgravity. 2019 Jun 13;5:14. doi: 10.1038/s41526-019-0075-2. eCollection 2019.


In order to maintain crew health and performance during long-duration spaceflight outside of low-Earth orbit, NASA and its international partners must be capable of providing a safe and effective pharmacy. Given few directed studies of pharmaceuticals in the space environment, it is difficult to characterize pharmaceutical effectiveness or stability during spaceflight; this in turn makes it challenging to select an appropriate formulary for exploration. Here, we present the current state of literature regarding pharmaceutical stability, metabolism, and effectiveness during spaceflight. In particular, we have attempted to highlight the gaps in current knowledge and the difficulties in translating terrestrial-based drug studies to a meaningful interpretation of drug stability, safety, and effectiveness in space. We hope to identify high-yield opportunities for future research that might better define and mitigate pharmaceutical risk for exploration missions.

Keywords: Clinical pharmacology; Pharmacodynamics; Pharmacokinetics; Preventive medicine.

Publication types

  • Review