Say goodbye to expired meds the right way

Woman reading label on pill bottle

Spring is upon us, and many are setting their sights on spring cleaning. While you clean out your closets and organize your sock drawers, take this opportunity to dispose of expired medications.

Disposing of expired medications

Expired medications not only include those left over from prescriptions but also over-the-counter medications. You should dispose of them properly to avoid potential dangers.

“Keeping unneeded medication around has several dangers associated with it. Children and animals may get into them, they may have expired or you might confuse them with currently used medication which could lead to poisoning,” said Frank LoVecchio, MD, a medical toxicologist at the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.

While there are misconceptions out there that you should flush your unused meds down the toilet or sink, that may not be the safest option.

“Unfortunately, these methods of disposal are not safe in all cases, and could be harmful for the environment, wildlife and waterways,” LoVecchio said.

Disposal locations close to home

Banner Family Pharmacy has a way to dispose of controlled substance medications you no longer need or have expired. You can bring the medication to one of the five Banner Family Pharmacy locations featuring the new MedSafe container.

The pilot program includes five locations, but Banner Family Pharmacy may add additional sites in the future. Current drug disposal locations:

Other medication disposal methods

Besides the Banner Family Pharmacy option, some local law enforcement agencies participate in the National Take-Back Initiative.

If you cannot dispose of the medications that way, LoVecchio provides some tips on making medications unusable before putting them in the trash so they don’t up in the wrong hands.

  • Crush pills or dissolve capsules in water.
  • Mix in with kitty litter, coffee grounds or other unappealing kitchen waste.
  • Add salt, ashes from your fireplace, dirt, charcoal or spices to liquids.
  • Put the medication in a plastic container – not glass – duct tape the lid and place it in a sealed bag before tossing it in the trash.
  • To avoid mistreatment once you have disposed of the medication, put the sealed bag in a brown paper sack so that the medicine is more difficult to identify.

“You should first refer to the printed material that accompanies your medication for specific instructions. If none are provided and be sure to remove all personal information from the bottle to avoid identity theft,” LoVecchio said.

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