Spring is here, which means it’s time to spring clean your medicine cabinet!
This also coincides with National Prescription Drug Take Back Day coming up on April 22. This day gives the public an opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by making it convenient to safely dispose of potentially dangerous unwanted, unused and expired medications as well as prescription drugs.
Here is an easy checklist to follow while you spring clean your medicine cabinet.
- Throw away unmarked containers. If an unwanted medication cannot be identified or is not in its original container, throw it away.
- Over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications expire, too. Be sure to check your cough and cold treatments, pain relievers and first aid kit for controlled substances to discard and replace.
- Relocate your medicine cabinet. All medications should be stored in a cool, dry environment away from children. The humidity and temperature changes that occur in a bathroom from showers may lower the medication’s efficacy.
- The one-year rule. Throw away any prescription medications that are older than one year. Medications may lose their efficacy after the expiration date, and some may even be toxic. You can usually recycle the containers they come in; just make sure to remove any stickers with your personal information on them.
“As a rule of thumb, unused or discontinued medications should be disposed of right away. This is especially true for pain medication and antibiotics,” Ginger Berrie, RPh, director of retail pharmacy with Harness Health, shares.
When getting rid of unwanted medications, take the following steps.
- Mix the medication with an undesirable substance after you remove it from its container. Used kitty litter or coffee grounds are both good options.
- Grab a sealable bag and put this mixture into it. Close it tight so it doesn’t leak or break out in the trash bag.
- If your medications are on the FDA’s flush list, you can flush them down the toilet. But only it they are on that list!
- Participate in a drug take back program, like National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 22!
Find out more about safely disposing of medications at home on the FDA’s website. Looking to take advantage of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day? Find a take back location near you on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)’s website.
If you still have questions about safe medication disposal methods, feel free to give your local pharmacy a call.
And finally, find a Bon Secours primary care provider near you.