Doing some spring cleaning? Don't forget the medicine cabinet
When you're getting ready for spring cleaning, add the medicine cabinet to your list. It's important to dispose of expired medicines promptly and properly.
Why proper disposal?
Some medicine is harmful if used by those for whom it's not intended, including the elderly, children and pets. Disposing of old medications reduces the risk of accidental use, overdose and illegal abuse. Plus, prescription drugs have been found in lakes, rivers and drinking water supplies, mostly as a result of flushing them down the toilet.
How do I throw away medicine?
Follow disposal instructions on the patient information that comes with your medicine. If you don't have this, follow these tips before placing medicine in the trash:
- Take the medicine out of its original container. To protect your privacy, scratch off personal information on the label.
- Mix the medicine with something that masks the medicine or makes it unappealing, like kitty litter or used coffee grounds.
- Put the mixture in a container or a plastic bag.
What about flushing?
A few dozen drugs should be flushed down the toilet. For a list of these drugs, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website at www.fda.gov and type "disposal by flushing" into the search box.
Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about how to dispose of medicine. Your pharmacist may be able to tell you about any drug "take-back" programs in your area.
National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
April 28, 2012 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
During three previous Take-Back Days, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its state, local and tribal law-enforcement and community partners have removed 995,185 pounds (498.5 tons) of medication from circulation in the past 13 months. Learn more and find the nearest collection site on the DEA website .