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Proper Disposal of Expired or Unused Medications

Meditec February 11, 2014 Comments Off on Proper Disposal of Expired or Unused Medications

expired medications disposalIt’s perhaps general knowledge for most of us to dispose of medications properly. But not for our little ones. The improper disposal of unused or expired medications can also pose harm to pets and the environment as a whole. According to research done by the US Geological Survey, 80 percent of bodies of water in 30 states contained traces of medications. Who knows what this 80 percent can do to marine life? To find out, the Great Lakes Water Institute is carrying out similar studies to determine the effects of medications, such as anti-depressants and Lipitor, on marine development.

Most of us tend to just throw unused or expired meds in the trash. But according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, this seemingly harmless act can pose health risks to humans and animals. So what’s the proper way of doing it? How can unnecessary accidents relating to medication disposal be prevented? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers three simple tips for citizens on how they could dispose of medicines and pills at home; we summarized these tips below:

Check the label or leaflet. Most medications have disposal instructions on the label or information leaflet. Observe the disposal guidelines noted in it. Unless specified, do not flush medicines down the toilet or sink.

UK’s National Health Service meanwhile advises customers to return unused medications to the pharmacy if they don’t know what to with them. The pharmacy will then dispose of the medicines properly for you.

Take-Back Programs. Community medication take-back programs allow citizens to surrender unused drugs at a particular location, either to be reused or to be disposed of. (The military implements a similar program at army bases overseas.)  Check with your local government to know if a take-back program is available in your community or at a nearby jurisdiction. The FDA also advises citizens to stand by for a US Drug Enforcement Administration-sponsored National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days.

You may want to check out the Dispose My Meds website to learn about any drug recycling or disposal programs in your area.

Conceal the medication. If disposal instructions weren’t included in the label or leaflet, you may go ahead and throw the medications in the trash. Just make sure to remove the medication from its container and mix them with “undesirable materials” (read: nasty and disgusting) like used ground coffee or kitty litter. Place the now undesirable mixture in a sealable bag or container to prevent any leakage.

Preserving your health and that of others goes beyond taking your medications properly; you also have to dispose your medication properly. Remember that you also have another obligation to fulfill to the people around you, not to mention your environment.

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