Getting Rid Of Medication Safely

Most people will fill a prescription medication at some point in life. Sometimes, certain scripts need to be used in entirety, meaning that all dosages must be taken, but in other scenarios, unused medication may remain. Common reasons for leftover pills include switching prescriptions, no longer needing the product, or simply forgetting to finish the bottle. From prescriptions to over-the-counter (OTC) medications and even medical supplies like syringes or lancets, proper disposal is critical to prevent biohazards and decrease the risk of illicit drug use.


Disposing of sharps

The doctor’s office, dentists, and hospitals aren’t the only places that might need medical supplies. From diabetics to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), there are plenty of reasons to use syringes and sharps at home. Once used, safely disposing of medical supplies is critical to prevent contamination and injury. For the safest disposal, used sharps, such as syringes and lancets, should be placed in a sharps container or a heavy-duty plastic container like a laundry detergent jug before being disposed.

Tossing prescriptions

Unused prescriptions pose a variety of risks. First, expired drugs can have altered potencies, meaning the product might be less effective or create unexpected side effects. Second, having old prescriptions lying around can be enticing to curious kids or people with substance abuse issues. The easiest way to safely dispose of old medications is to check with local pharmacies to see if the location offers a mail-back or drop-off box program to collect unused drugs. Note that such programs can also be used for OTC medications.

When take-back programs aren’t available

If a person lives in an area that doesn’t have a take-back program at a medical facility or pharmacy, at-home disposal is the next best option. Avoid flushing medications down the drain, as the chemical components can potentially contaminate the water, affecting wildlife and even people. To safely dispose of medication at home, pills should be placed in a trash bag. Remove the medicine from the container and mix the drug with items people wouldn’t want to come into contact with, like kitty litter or old food. Once sealed, the medication can then be disposed of in the regular trash.

Can medical supplies be recycled?

The answer to whether medical devices like diabetic supplies can be recycled is maybe. Certain items like insulin pumps from infusion sets can’t be recycled and should be treated like a sharp object when managing disposal. Unfortunately, no insulin pump firms in the US currently have recycling programs. Primarily metal medical equipment like wheelchairs that have been cleaned can be recycled at a metal scrap facility. However, motorized equipment should have the batteries removed before disposal.

Plan for take-back day

Another option consumers can take advantage of is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The program is available nationwide and occurs in April and October every year. Be proactive about safely tossing prescription medications at the time. Although tossing pills or medical equipment without a second thought is the easy approach, properly disposing of medication can keep the community safe. With various disposal options available, getting rid of leftover medications or supplies doesn’t have to be a burden.


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