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Carrington College Blog

How to Dispose of Drugs

April 20, 2016

As a pharmacy technician, you make sure you verify patient information and fill prescriptions.

But did you know you should also make sure people know what to do with medications they no longer need?

In honor of Prescription Drug Take-Back Day April 30, here are some helpful suggestions:

Sharing is Not Caring

Picture it: You’ve been prescribed medication for migraines. Your friend starts complaining about having a headache, so you offer him one of you migraine meds. Seems harmless, right?

Credit: file404/Shutterstock

WRONG.  Even though your mother taught you to share, sharing is NOT caring when it comes to prescribed medications. It doesn’t matter if your friend has the exact same symptoms as you did when you were prescribed the medication, DO NOT SHARE your prescription with them. You are NOT a doctor. Sharing medication meant only for you could land them in the emergency room, or worse.

Oh, it also happens to be illegal.

Don’t Automatically Courtesy Flush

A couple extra pills in the bottle that you don’t need, so you can just flush them down the toilet, right?

Credit: Lukatme/Shutterstock

Think again. It used to be pretty common for people to flush extra meds to keep them out of the wrong hands, but experts say that can actually be dangerous!

The FDA notes flushing certain medicines may cause trace levels of drug residues in surface water, like rivers and lakes, and in some community drinking water supplies.

So how should you get rid of unwanted and unneeded medications?

Being Trashy is not Cool

Credit: Bogdan Vija/Shutterstock

Instead of tossing unused medications in the garbage, the best alternative is to transfer unused medicines to collectors registered with the DEA. Authorized sites may be retail, hospital or clinic pharmacies and law enforcement locations. Some offer mail-back programs or collection receptacles.

Not sure how to find the collectors in your neighborhood? Try clicking here or call 1-800-882-9539.

Follow These Simple Rules

If you can’t find a registered collector or take back initiative near you, there are some basic steps the FDA does offer if you have to toss those medicines in the household trash:

Step One: Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds.

Step Two: Place the mixture in a sealed container such as a plastic bag.

Step Three: Throw the empty container in your household trash.

Also, make sure you scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging. You don’t want to be the victim of identity theft if someone goes dumpster diving.

Still not sure what to do?

When in doubt, ask your pharmacist!

To learn more about proper drug disposal or National Drug Take Back Day initiatives in your community, please click here.

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