Did you ever wonder what you should do with expired medications, or medications you are no longer taking? Flush them, right? Wrong! Dump them in the trash, right? Wrong! Leave them in your medicine cabinet and let your kids deal with them after you're dead. Well, I guess that could be an option.
Here's the thing -- prescription and over-the-counter drugs can leach into the ground water, as well as pose a potential risk of ingestion for curious kids and animals who may be attracted to the yummy candy-like appearance of a rainbow of pills and capsules.
So, what do you do?
Well, ideally, you take all your people (and pet) meds to a collection event close to you. Call your local municipal building and ask if a Take Back event is scheduled in your town.
You can also check with your local pharmacies and see if any of them have a safe disposal method for your expired prescriptions.
If there is not an event coming up and you can't find a pharmacy that takes your meds, you can still clean out your medicine chest by throwing the meds in the trash. However, you must be careful how you do this.
First, open bottles and dump contents (pills, capsules and liquid) into a sturdy Ziploc-type bag. Add a little bit of water to help the pills dissolve. Next, add some cat litter or coffee grounds to make the concoction less appealing to curious children or scavenging critters. Seal the bag and throw it in the trash.
Remove your name and any identifying information from the bottle and recycle it.
There, that's not too complicated. Ideally, you want to keep these toxins out of the landfill, but if you don't have another alternative, this is the best way to go.
The FDA released a list of meds that are safe to flush down the toilet. If this is the method you choose, pay strict attention to the following list. Do not add any meds to this list, unless the bottle specifically indicates that the drug may be flushed!
MEDICINES RECOMMENDED FOR DISPOSAL BY FLUSHING
This list from FDA tells you what expired, unwanted, or unused medicines you should flush down the sink or toilet to help prevent danger to people and pets in the home. Flushing these medicines will get rid of them right away and help keep your family and pets safe.
FDA continually evaluates medicines for safety risks and will update the list as needed.
Medicine -- Active Ingredient
Actiq, oral transmucosal lozenge * -- Fentanyl Citrate
Avinza, capsules (extended release) -- Morphine Sulfate
Daytrana, transdermal patch system -- Methylphenidate
Demerol, tablets * -- Meperidine Hydrochloride
Demerol, oral solution * -- Meperidine Hydrochloride
Diastat/Diastat AcuDial, rectal gel -- Diazepam
Dilaudid, tablets * -- Hydromorphone Hydrochloride
Dilaudid, oral liquid * -- Hydromorphone Hydrochloride
Dolophine Hydrochloride, tablets * -- Methadone Hydrochloride
Duragesic, patch (extended release) * -- Fentanyl
Embeda, capsules (extended release) -- Morphine Sulfate; Naltrexone Hydrochloride
Exalgo, tablets (extended release) -- Hydromorphone Hydrochloride
Fentora, tablets (buccal) -- Fentanyl Citrate
Kadian, capsules (extended release) -- Morphine Sulfate
Methadone Hydrochloride, oral solution * -- Methadone Hydrochloride
Methadose, tablets * -- Methadone Hydrochloride
Morphine Sulfate, tablets (immediate release) * -- Morphine Sulfate
Morphine Sulfate, oral solution * -- Morphine Sulfate
MS Contin, tablets (extended release) * -- Morphine Sulfate
Onsolis, soluble film (buccal) -- Fentanyl Citrate
Opana, tablets (immediate release) -- Oxymorphone Hydrochloride
Opana ER, tablets (extended release) -- Oxymorphone Hydrochloride
Oramorph SR, tablets (sustained release) -- Morphine Sulfate
Oxycontin, tablets (extended release) * -- Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Percocet, tablets * -- Acetaminophen; Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Percodan, tablets * -- Aspirin; Oxycodone Hydrochloride
Xyrem, oral solution -- Sodium Oxybate
*These medicines have generic versions available or are only available in generic formulations.
So, the next time you are about to toss some pills in the trash or flush a medication down the toilet, check back here first. There is a proper way to do it and when you care about the environment and the future of your children and grandchildren, it's definitely worth the effort to do it right!
Keeping it out of the landfill (as much as possible),