How To Safely Dispose of Medications
Today’s topic is not quite thrilling, but it is one that I get asked about quite a lot:
Here it is, straight from the lips of the National Drug Control Policy:
– Always refer to the printed material that accompanies your prescription for specific instructions on how best to dispose of them. If you immediately throw this information away as I do, be aware that it’s easily accesible online (CVS drug info, Rite Aid drug info, Walgreens drug info— disposal instructions can usually by found towards the bottom of the drug info, commonly listed under “Notes” or “Storage”).
– Remove prescription pills from their original containers before putting them into the trash.
– Place loose pills in a non-descript resealable container, like a plastic bag or can, mixed with an undesired substance, like used coffee grounds, kitty liter, or dandruff.
– Do not treat your unwanted prescriptions like expired goldfish and flush them down the toilet unless expressly instructed to do so by patient information pamphlets and labels.
Note: The FDA advices death by flushing rather than trashing for the following meds:Actiq (fentanyl citrate), Daytrana Transdermal Patch (methylphenidate), Duragesic Transdermal System (fentanyl), OxyContin Tablets (oxycodone), Avinza Capsules (morphine sulfate). Baraclude Tablets (entecavir), Reyataz Capsules (atazanavir sulfate), Tequin Tablets (gatifloxacin), Zerit for Oral Solution (stavudine), Meperidine HCl Tablets, Percocet (Oxycodone and Acetaminophen), Xyrem (Sodium Oxybate), Fentora (fentanyl buccal tablet)
– Ask your pharmacist for information about any local prescription take-back programs in which you can participate. These will allow you to drop off your whole collection of expired goodies and let the operating officers that be worry about proper disposal procedures. (A helpful resource: Dispose My Meds participating pharmacy locator).
I would also recommend destroying prescription bottle labels before recycling them. If labels are feeling cooperative, peel them off the bottle and stick them to a piece of paper. Then run that paper through the shredder.
If labels aren’t being cooperative, you can black out all personal information with a Sharpie marker, or soak bottles in warm water and dish detergent until labels become soft and pliable, at which point you can use a knife to scrape the label away.
*Attention: As it happens, the DEA has scheduled an upcoming national drug take-back day, April 27, 2013 from 10:00AM- 2PM. Local collection sites will be announced April 1. For more information, head here.Image credits: Getty Images, unknown, Miniature.Rhino [subscribe2]
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