Disposing of Medications

by Mary S on October 14, 2012

NightingaleRx is proud to lend its support to SMARxT Disposal, a nationwide public awareness campaign to educate people about how to dispose of medicines in a safe and environmentally protective manner.

The key point to know is that it is no longer recommended to flush or pour most expired, unwanted, or unused medications down the drain.  This is a complete reversal of the advice that I, for one, learned growing up.  Flushing was the norm, but it is no longer recommended because of potential harm to wildlife, pets, the water supply, and other people.

For answers to some common questions about the change in advice, visit the SMARxT site here.

So, what should you do if you have old prescriptions to get rid of?  Here are some options:

  • Keep your eye out for periodic drug take back events sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency or your local community.  In a recent drug take-back event, the DEA collected 244 tons of prescription medications from the public.  You can Google “drug disposal event” or “prescription take back” with your city name.
  • Many communities have an ongoing household hazardous waste disposal programs.  While I personally haven’t done this for prescriptions, I did get rid of unused paint this way.  After calling for an appointment on a Saturday morning, I drove to the designated drop off spot.  There I was met be people in HazMat suits, which really reinforced for me the toxins we deal with daily.  Google “household hazardous waste” with your city name to locate your own program.
  • Walgreens Safe Drug Disposal Program at Walgreenspharmacy has a Safe Medication Disposal Program.  You can purchase a prepaid envelope called Take Away at pharmacies nationwide.  It was $3.99 at my local Walgreens and I found it hanging in the section with the pill boxes.  You fill the envelope with your unwanted medications, and just drop it in the mail.  They take care of the rest, incinerating the unopened envelopes.  We had a little challenge fitting the stuffed envelope thru a small mail slot, but other than that it was super simple.

We hope you will use one of these newer methods to dispose of expired, unused or unwanted medications.

Until Next Time,
–Mary

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