Where and How to Properly Dispose Unused Medicines

All across the country, medicine cabinets overflow with outdated and unused medications as well as medical supplies. As a matter of fact, according to a 2017 Consumer Reports poll, almost one-third of Americans haven’t cleared away their old medications in the last year, and roughly one-fifth have not done so in the last five years. Just consider what the figures would look like now.

Despite how this may appear to be a simple matter of disorganization, neglecting to dispose of expired and unused medications properly or at all, can have serious health effects. Due to a change in chemical composition or a decrease in potency, expired OTC medications may be less effective and can even be dangerous. What’s more, certain expired medications are susceptible to bacterial growth, and sub-potent antibiotics may fail to treat infections, leading to more serious diseases and antibiotic resistance.

But perhaps the most dangerous scenario of all would have to be the possibility of such medications falling into the wrong hands. As per the CDC, 50,000 young children wind up in emergency rooms each year after getting a hold of medications when an adult was not watching. This suggests that not only are expired medications dangerous to the individual for whom they were given. Rather, it has the potential to injure children and pets if consumed by accident. For all of these reasons, the appropriate disposal of expired medications cannot be emphasized enough. But how should you get rid of outdated drugs in your home?

If you require a bit of guidance, we’ve got you covered! Apart from delivering exceptional pharmaceutical services in Martinsville, Virginia, we at Cavalier Pharmacare also go to great lengths to provide our customers with relevant information that they may use to increase their health and safety. This is because we strive to live up to our mission which is to help our community live longer, feel better, and achieve a higher quality of life one patient at a time.

As a trusted retail pharmacy, allow us to share various approaches on how to dispose of unused medicines properly:

  • Drug Take Back Programs

    The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) organizes National Prescription Drug Take Back Day around the country. Many towns and cities also have their very own drug take-back programs. You can find a nearby site by contacting your local law enforcement or the DEA to locate a DEA-approved collector in your area.

    You can also ask your pharmacist for help. Certain pharmacies have mail-back programs, on-site prescription drop-off boxes, and other alternatives to help you properly dispose of your unneeded medications.

    There are two ways, however, to dispose of medications at home when a take-back option is not conveniently accessible. This depends on the substance, and this involves flushing medicines and disposing of medicines in household trash.

  • Flushing medicines
    Some medications contain explicit instructions to be flushed down the toilet or sink as soon as they are no longer needed because they might be particularly damaging to others. This is given the fact that a take-back alternative is not available. To identify which prescriptions should be disposed of in this manner, check the label or accompanying patient information if it specifies doing so, or go over the FDA’s list of medicines suggested for disposal by flushing.
  • Disposing medicines in the household trash

    You may dispose of the majority of medications in your household garbage if there are no drug take-back locations, programs, or sites in your region, and no particular disposal instructions (such as flushing) are listed in the prescription guide or package insert. There are, however, specific measures you need to follow.

    Below are the recommended steps from the FDA:

    • Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This makes the medicine less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through the trash looking for drugs.
    • Put the mixture in something you can close (a resealable zipper storage bag, empty can, or other containers) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.
    • Throw the container in the garbage. Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.

Although following all these instructions can seem a little burdensome, it is certainly worthwhile since it will protect the lives of people who are closest to you. In these cases, the saying, “prevention is better than cure” is best demonstrated.

Should you have more questions, we would be more than glad to hear from you. Whether it is about your medications, health, and wellness, you are welcome to visit our drugstore in Virginia anytime!

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