What to Do With Expired Prescriptions

As community pharmacists, we here at Island Health field many questions about what to do with expired prescriptions.

When in doubt, follow the steps outlined below to safely (and conveniently!) dispose of expired medication:

Take Your Prescriptions Back to Your Local Pharmacist 

Prescription medications that have expired or have not been used can be dangerous. More often than not, these expired prescriptions are forgotten about in medicine cabinets and cupboards. This increases the chance for them to be mishandled and abused.

For safe disposal, look in your medicine cabinet for any expired or unused prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and natural health products. Check with your pharmacist if you’re uncertain about whether or not a drug can still be consumed safely.

Give the expired and unused prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and natural health products to your local pharmacist to be disposed of safely.

For take-back programs, return any unused or expired medications to your pharmacist. 

Don’t Flush Your Expired Medications

Do not, by any means, flush your medicines down the toilet or wash them down the sink. If you absolutely have to dispose of your medications in the garbage, take them out of the containers they came in and black out your identifying information on the label. By scratching out your personal information, you are protecting your identity and ensuring your personal health information stays confidential.

To make the drug less appealing to children and pets, as well as people who go through the trash looking for drugs, hide them in used coffee grounds or kitty litter. Once the mixture is complete, put it in a closed bag, empty can or another sealable container. This will prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of the garbage bag.

Why Disposing of Your Expired Prescriptions Matters

As mentioned earlier, expired prescriptions that have not been disposed of can lead to being used with the worst intentions. Improper disposal of these drugs can be harmful to humans and animals, as well as the environment we share with them.

It has been proven that thanks to improper disposal of prescription drugs and medicines sold over the counter, there are traces of these drugs in the environment, both on land and in the water. While their concentration levels are low, it is possible that they are enough to have hostile effects on the health of the environment, humans, and animals.

Proper disposal of your expired prescriptions can reduce the chance of the effects building up over time.

Learn More About Disposing of Your Expired Prescriptions Safely

Come in today to find out more about safe disposal, and our pharmacists will be happy to answer any further questions you have.

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