Twice a year, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) holds a National Prescription Drug Enforcement Day to encourage the safe removal of expired and unwanted medicines from the home. The next drop-off date, April 30, will provide many places where people can drop off medicines for safe disposal. The location of the drop-off can be found on the DEA website of the National Prescription Drugs Control Bureau.
While these events are important, it is just as important to consider the safe disposal of these medicines throughout the year. Proper disposal of medicines can prevent misuse of medicines and limit unauthorized access to opioids.
According to the Michigan-Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network, every 10 minutes a child visits an emergency room for drug addiction. Three in five teens say that prescription painkillers are easily available from their parents’ shelves.
Medicine to dispose of
Both over-the-counter and prescription drugs can be dangerous if misused. When deciding which medicine to dispose of, look for expired medicines, unused or remaining prescription medicines, and topical medicines such as prescription creams and patches.
Many may think that simply flushing the medicine or throwing the prescription into the trash can is an effective disposal method, but finds this approach dangerous to yourself and others. You will be surprised. That’s why official drug recovery events are useful. The organization that hosts these events is responsible for safe drug disposal without harming the environment or the community.
- Search the collection site. There are many drop-off events surrounding National Drug Takeback Day. Check out local news sources and community organizations to find convenient locations nearby. Some sites, including pharmacies, accept drug drop-offs all year round.Move to dea.gov Also fda.gov To find these sites.
- Please dispose of the medicine at home. The US Food and Drug Administration offers several ways to safely clean up your medicine racks.
- Remove the prescription from the original container.
- Mix medicines with toxic substances such as Kitty’s toilet and coffee grounds. This helps hide them from those who may be looking for medicines in the trash.
- Place in an impermeable, indistinguishable container, such as an empty can or a sealable bag.
- To protect your privacy, cover or scratch the personally identifiable information of the original drug container before disposing of it.
Some medicines can be flushed down the toilet, but only if the medicine label gives specific instructions to do so. The FDA site (fda.gov) also has a list of medicines that can be flushed.
Protect your friends, family and the environment by safely disposing of unused or expired medicines. Take advantage of local drug recovery events and collection sites to keep these tips in mind all year round.
About the Author: James D. Grant, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Michigan.
Atheer Kaddis is Vice President of Pharmacy Services at Blue Cross Blue Shield, Michigan.