Do You Know How to Dispose of your Expired Medications?

If you peek inside your medicine cabinet, there is a good chance it contains a few expired or unnecessary prescription medications. It is probably a good idea to discard them, but what is the right way to do so?

Pills Spilling From Bottle

Disposing of these medications, whether they are expired antibiotics, or pain meds that are no longer needed is very important because they can be harmful if taken by someone other than the person they were prescribed for.

While most medicines can be thrown in the household trash, many others have specific disposal instructions to immediately flush them down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed. Only flush prescription drugs that specifically note to do so as there is evidence that certain medications can harmful to the water supply. If you are uncomfortable flushing or disposing of your meds, another option is participating in local drug “take-back” programs where they can be turned in and properly disposed of.

If no disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug labeling and no take-back program is available in your area, throw the drugs in the household trash using these tips:

• Remove your meds from their original containers and mix them with coffee grounds, dirt or kitty litter. This makes them less appealing to drug seekers.

• Place this mixture in a sealable bag to prevent the drugs from leaking out of the garbage bag.

• Scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to protect your identity and privacy.

• Do not give your medicine to friends. Doctors prescribe medicines based on your specific symptoms and medical history. Something that works for you could be dangerous for someone else.

• When in doubt about proper disposal, ask your pharmacist.

Check with your local government officials about any up-coming drug take-back events in your community. If you cannot locate one and you have questions, you can call Jamaica Hospital’s on-site retail pharmacy about how to properly dispose of your medications. For more information, please call 718-206-8515.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.