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As human spaceflight seeks to expand beyond low-Earth orbit, NASA and its international partners face numerous challenges related to ensuring the safety of their astronauts, including the need to provide a safe and effective pharmacy for long-duration spaceflight. Historical missions have relied upon frequent resupply of onboard pharmaceuticals; as a result, there has been little study into the effects of long-term exposure of pharmaceuticals to the space environment. Of particular concern are the long-term effects of space radiation on drug stability, especially as missions venture away from the protective proximity of the Earth. Here we highlight the risk of space radiation to pharmaceuticals during exploration spaceflight, identifying the limitations of current understanding. We further seek to identify ways in which these limitations could be addressed through dedicated research efforts aimed toward the rapid development of an effective pharmacy for future spaceflight endeavors.

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npj Microgravity