While prescription drugs can save lives when taken properly, they’re not meant to last forever.

No matter if it’s just one pill or a large bottle, once prescription drugs or even over the counter medications expire – which is usually within about one year – they need to be properly disposed of.

While taking expired medications can be dangerous to your health, leaving them in unattended medicine cabinets is dangerous for others. According to the Food and Drug Administration, nearly 300,000 cases of improper medicine use are reported to Poison Control Centers each year, with about 5,000 being children. One study found that in cases of exposure to grandparent’s medication, 45% involved medicines had even been stored in child-resistant containers.

In honor of National Safety Month, learn the 5 proper ways to safely dispose of medicine from your home:

  • Contact your city’s trash or recycling service to see if they sponsor a medicine take-back day.
  • Ask your pharmacist if their pharmacy is involved with a medicine disposal program.
  • Mix uncrushed medicine in with an inedible substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds to prevent someone from ingesting them.
  • Place in a sealed plastic bag and throw in the trash, being sure to remove any labels or scratch off patient information.
  • Some medications can safely be flushed down toilet or dumped down drains to prevent anyone from retrieving them from the trash. Here is an approved list of medications recommended by the Food and Drug Administration to be discarded through the sewer system.

While some believe that flushing medications down the toilet or down the drain can pollute drinking water and oceans, the miniscule amount caused by this is not considered harmful, according the FDA.

Please share this information with friends and family members who might need advice on how to remove unwanted medications from their home.



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