How to Properly Dispose of Medications

dispose of medicines properlyAs the seasons change and cold weather beckons, it’s a great time to think about cleaning out your medicine cabinet.

However, cleaning out your medicine cabinet is not as easy as just throwing expired bottles into the trash… or it shouldn’t be.

Why should I not throw medicine bottles away in the trash can?

  • Medicines, unfortunately, can be illegally scavenged by people wanting to use or sell the drugs.
  • When thrown away, medicines can be found by animals or children, and could be harmfully ingested.
  • Chemicals and toxins can leach from the medications and escape into groundwater, polluting the environment, causing hazards to other humans, wildlife, and vegetation.

How should I properly dispose of medications?

SMARxT Disposal is a great resource to consult if you’re looking to dispose of medications.  A collaboration of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Pharmacists Association, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, SMARxT Disposal gives excellent directions for responsible medication disposal.

First, we are advised to NOT flush medications or pour them down any sink or drain.  Before we throw them in the household trash, what should we do ?

  • Pour medication into a sealable plastic bag. If medication is a solid (pill, liquid capsule, etc.), add water to dissolve it.
  • Add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds (or any material that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for pets and children to eat) to the plastic bag.
  • Remove and destroy ALL identifying personal information (prescription label) from all medication containers before recycling them or throwing them away.
  • Seal the plastic bag and put it in the trash.

Though these directions may seem like a great deal of work, it’s important to follow them to avoid contamination and potential misuse or abuse.

Remember, too, that if you have any questions about medication disposal, you can pick up the phone and give us a call.  Our pharmacists are ready to help and answer what questions you may have.

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