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Medication Safety: Disposing of Expired and Unused Medications

April 20, 2021 – If you have expired and unused medications in your home, you could be putting yourself or others in harm’s way. It is important you practice medication safety and dispose of these drugs as quickly and safely as possible.

Why should you throw out expired and unused prescription medication?

Your Safety.
The bottom line is, you should only take prescription medication under the guidance of your doctor or pharmacist. It may be tempting to keep expired or unused medications, just in case. But taking them could cause a number of health problems.

Disposing of these medications will help prevent you from:

  • Taking a drug that has been recalled and taken off the market
  • Having a dangerous reaction or bad side effect
  • Making your condition worse
  • Taking the wrong drug for your illness
  • Mistaking one drug for another

The best course of action is to always talk to your doctor when you are experiencing symptoms. They will be able to properly diagnose you and prescribe medication that will work best for your current health condition.

The Safety of Others.
Any medication currently in your home has the potential to end up in the wrong hands. Someone could mistake your medication for their own or even take it on purpose, knowing it’s not theirs. Unfortunately, some people will steal medications from their friends and family to use illegally.

By removing unused and expired medications, you reduce the risk accidental poisoning, overdose, and abuse by others. You’ll also be less likely to share your drugs. Remember, your prescription medications are not suitable for anyone but you and could make someone else very sick.

How to dispose of your expired and unused prescription medications?

Many pharmacies and law enforcement agencies have options for disposing of your medications safely. You can use this tool to find one that offers a take back program where you can conveniently drop off your medications.

You can also take advantage of the national Take Back Day on April 24. This event is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Their goal is to address the misuse of controlled substances like pain relievers, stimulants and sedatives.

If you can’t find a take back program near you, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers information about properly disposing of medications at home.

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