The Norman Transcript

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October 15, 2013

How to safely dispose of unused meds

NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior, What is the safest way to dispose of unwanted medications? My husband and I have drawers full of unused and expired drugs that we’d like to get rid of and get them out of sight of our curious grandkids. What can you tell me?

— Concerned

Grandmother

Dear Concerned,

The safest and most responsible way to dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medications is to take it to a medicine take-back event. The next prime opportunity to do this is on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 26.

National Take-Back Day is a free, anonymous program that will have around 6,000 designated sites nationwide — including many fire and police stations and community centers — where you can drop off your unwanted medications.

Developed by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the take-back program was created to help address the ongoing problem of prescription drug abuse, as well as improper use of medications and accidental poisonings.

In the three years of semiannual collections, more than 1,400 tons of prescription meds have been collected and incinerated.

To find a collection site near you, visit dea.gov or call 800-882-9539. 

The reasons take-back sites are a better option than tossing the medications yourself are because throwing drugs in the trash gives kids, grandkids and pets the opportunity to get at them, and a wastebasket is a likely place for family drug abusers to check after they’ve looked in the medicine cabinet.

And flushing them down the toilet — unless instructed — is generally a bad idea because the Food and Drug Administration wants to minimize drug residues in the public water supply.

 

Self-disposal: If you happen to miss take-back day or there’s no site available near you, talk to your pharmacist to see if he or she knows of another medicine disposal program in your area or call your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service. If you want to dispose of your pills on your own, here are some tips recommended by the FDA.

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