- Anyone who finds your still-labeled prescription container will immediately know what medication you take, what pharmacy you use, what doctor treats you, and more. Whose business is that?
- Why risk having anyone pick up your prescription bottle and try to refill the medication inappropriately?
- What if someone is caught with your leftover medication, still bearing your personal information? Sure, you would likely end up proving your innocence. But what a hassle that process could be.
Changing meds: Safety tips for tossing leftover drugs
Pharmaceutical companies constantly research and modify medications. New drugs enter the medical marketplace frequently. Patients living with multiple sclerosis or other conditions often find that their physicians write new prescriptions to change treatment plans. Plenty of us may be instructed to take certain drugs on a trial or short-term basis, leading to an accumulation of partially used prescriptions in our medicine cabinets.
What should be done with the old meds?
Please refuse to discard unused medications in the trash. This presents an obvious risk in the home and farther down the trash disposal chain.
Don’t rinse them down the sink or flush them down the toilet, either. Consider the ecological implications of adding medicines to the water supply.
Here are a few basic common-sense guidelines for getting rid of leftover medications.
1. Remove and destroy the labels from all prescription drug bottles or canisters. Stick the labels on a sheet of junk mail, and run it through a shredder. Or cut them up with scissors. It’s a good idea to take off drug labels routinely before throwing out empty drug containers, too. This step is important for multiple reasons.
2. Take the now-unmarked leftover medication to an approved drug disposal location. Most counties have official drug drop-off sites. These may include local pharmacies, police departments, public safety departments, or other facilities. If in doubt, ask a pharmacist for referrals. The aim is to prevent any possibility of leftover drugs (particularly controlled substances) from winding up in places where they do not belong.
3. Follow published guidelines for sharps. Needles and other injection equipment require special care for disposal. Rules tend vary by state. Some require users to place used sharps in special FDA-approved containers. Others permit disposal in sealed, clearly marked hard plastic containers (such as laundry detergent bottles). Several communities have hazardous waste collection sites, which will accept such drop-offs.
Safe disposal of leftover medications is responsible, eco-friendly, and smart.
Adapted from public domain artwork