We all have over-flooded drawers and cabinets of prescribed drugs, which we no longer use – whether it’s allergy medicines, cancer cures, insulins, or antibiotics. There could be any reason for this, for example the drugs might have crossed their expiration date or the prescription has changed, or luckily you have recovered and you don’t use them anymore.
It’s not important that what’s the reason behind medicines being unused, what’s important is to develop an understanding of how to dispose of old prescription drugs, how to dispose of unused drugs safely and follow the guidelines of disposal of prescribed medicines. Here are a few ways in which this can be managed efficiently:
Option 1: Let The Authorities Do It
A drug take-back day sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is organized every year to collect unused medicines around the country. People bring their expired and unused prescribed drugs to dispose of them of safely. You can search for next year’s drug collection day event date and your local site to dispose of the drug here. For more information, you can contact 800 882 9539.
Option 2: Dispose Them Yourself
Most people around the world dare to take matters into their own hands without having the proper knowledge. The disposal instruction and information comes on the leaflet provided with the drug and usually comes with the prescription as well. You should not flush or sink the drugs unless the information provided in the leaflet tells you to do it.
A list containing several medications that can be flushed to protect people and animals is provided by the FDA. If it is consumed by any person or living being who wasn’t supposed to it, then it can be harmful and deadly.
Option 3: Drop Them Voluntarily At Any Community
As of 2012, the National Conference of State Legislatures of around 38 states in the U.S. has passed drug donation legislation. States including Colorado, Kentucky, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Nebraska have specifically generated programs to redistribute the prescribed medicines to eligible patients.
Option 4: Contact Your Trash Pick-Up Service
Your local recycling program or trash service can tell you about the safe disposal guidelines and regulations for your locality. This can be extremely important to know when you are disposing of insulin injections and inhalers, which can be unsafe if burned or punctured.
Option 5: Pack Them Safely
If the leaflet doesn’t give any instruction for the disposal, or the trash service does not provide guidelines, or there are no take-back medicine events, then you can dispose of the drugs with your daily trash bags.
- First, take away any information on the container from which the drug can be identified.
- Next, put the medicine in a bag containing a seal. If the medicine is in a form of a capsule or tablet/pill, then dissolve it in water before putting it into the sealed bag.
- Add some kitty litter to make it less appealing to the animals and bees, and for the ones who search for the medicines in the trash cans.
What risks are there if you don’t follow the guidelines and don’t know how to dispose of old prescription drugs?
Risks behind not properly disposing prescription drugs
The impacts of improper drug disposal are wide. If the expired or unused drugs were not disposed of properly, then there will be some dangers that play their role. First, it can be taken mistakenly.
Most of the medicines start losing their effectiveness as time passes and some have long term effects of those drugs. They may lose their potency over time but still, it is dangerous to take expired medicines. Especially, if you are a heart patient and you are relying on the medicines, then you may be putting your life at serious risk.
A research was conducted in 2018, which showed that the flushed out medicines, rinsed through the sink, or thrown via trash bags end up showing their effects in local water around the country. The research also stated that the traced quantity of the drugs in the drinking water, ground surfaces, and rivers are causing abnormalities in sea lives and also are the reason to harm human cells in different environmental settings.
Unfortunately, the current water sanitation technology is not as effective as it is needed to remove such tiny drug particles from the water, so it is causing numerous diseases in humans.
What drugs can be discarded?
The drug that should be discarded fall into three categories:
- (OTC) Over–the–counter
Most of the OTC drugs can be disposed of at home or can be returned to the pharmacy for disposing of purposes. For the other two categories, you must look for the take-back local events and sites arranged by the Drug Enforcement and Federal Agencies every year.
By keeping every danger and regulations of proper disposal of a prescription drug in mind, you could be the reason for saving thousands of lives around the country.
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