(RxWiki News) This year's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day has been postponed due to COVID-19. But you can still safely dispose of your unused and expired medications.
The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was scheduled for Saturday, April 25, 2020, before the delay was announced. As of publication time, a new date had not been set.
Although the ideal way to dispose of expired drugs is to deliver them to a take-back program, if a take-back option is not available, such as in this case, there are other ways to safely dispose of expired drugs.
If you have unused and/or expired medications, here is what you can try next:
- See if your community and local pharmacies have any disposal kiosks that do not require any contact.
- Check with your pharmacist. Some pharmacies have mail-back programs for unused medicines.
Disposing of your unused and/or expired medications is important. Although some people may think holding on to expired medications is harmless or even smart thinking, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stresses that keeping drugs past their expiration dates can be dangerous for both patients and their communities.
There are two ways to safely get rid of your prescription and over-the counter (OTC) medicines. The method of disposal will depend on the medication.
The FDA recommends these two options IF a take-back program is NOT available:
1. Flush Them
If your unused or expired medication is on the FDA flush list, immediately flush it down the toilet.
The FDA recommends flushing specific medications (which are on the list) because they can be harmful and, in some cases, lead to death with just one dose IF they are taken by someone other than the person the medication belongs to. An example of a medication on the list is the fentanyl patch; this is a strong pain killer (opioid). Even after a patch is used, it still contains a good amount of the medicine, which can be dangerous.
2. Toss Them
If the medication is NOT on the flush list, you can throw it in the trash. But before throwing the medication in the trash, you must do the following:
a. Mix medicines (liquid or pills) with dirt, cat litter or used coffee grounds. This step makes the medication less appealing to children and pets and can prevent accidental ingestion. It also makes it less recognizable to someone who may be going through the trash looking for medications.
b. Place the mixture in a container, such as a sealed plastic bag, empty can or another container. This prevents the medication from spilling out.
c. Dispose of the container in your trash at home.
d. Remove all personal information on the prescription label before throwing out or recycling the empty bottle. This step is important to keep your health information private.
Different medications require different disposal methods. Speak with your pharmacist if you have any questions about how to safely dispose of your medications.