Cleaning Out the Medicine Cabinet Keeps Others Safe
Almost everyone has taken medication for something, whether it is as simple as an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever for a headache, an allergy medicine, or an antibiotic to combat an infection. However, with OTC medication in particular, most people rarely use an entire package and often let medication linger in the cabinet until it is past (sometimes long past) the expiration date. In fact, unneeded medication can be disposed of safely and easily, and proper medicine disposal keeps our homes and communities safe and our environment clean, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the national trade association representing manufacturers of OTC medicines.
"Sustainability, stewardship, and medication safety is everyone’s responsibility," says Scott Melville, president and CEO of CHPA.
"How you dispose of unwanted, unused, or expired OTC medicines is important and following the proper in-home disposal method for OTCs is quick and easy," he emphasizes.
So clean out your medicine cabinet this spring and choose one of these three quick and easy methods for disposing of expired, unused, or unwanted medicines:
Trash at home. Believe it or not, many OTC medications, and some prescription medications, can be thrown out with your regular trash. Mix the medicine (do not crush any tablets or capsules) with some especially unappealing trash, such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds, and place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag. Then put the bag in your usual household trash bin, and you’re done.
Drop-off disposal. Many pharmacies and law enforcement agencies provide designated kiosks where you can bring any medication, OTC or prescription, for safe disposal. Chances are there’s a drop-off location close by. The website MyOldMeds.com, has a free zip code locator tool to find more than 22,000 sites nationwide that offer medicine disposal options all year long.
Drug take-back days. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency conducts biannual national Drug Take-Back Day events, and the next one occurs this year on April 24. These events, which are set up temporarily at convenient community-based locations throughout the country, serve as an opportunity to return medications safely, and as a friendly public-service reminder to clean out your medicine cabinet.