What to do with expired/unused medicines

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As you clean out a drawer or medicine cabinet, you may come upon prescribed medications that are expired or unused. Many times there are expired over-the-counter medicines or some we no longer use. How do you safely dispose of these unused medicines?

If there are no disposal instructions on the prescription label, and you don’t have easy to access a take-back program as explained below, follow these simple steps to dispose of the drugs in your household trash:

1) Remove the medicine from its original container and mix it with coffee grounds or kitty litter.

2) Place mixture in a zip lock bag or plastic container to prevent leakage in the garbage. Discard it in the trash.

3) Make the drug container label unreadable using a permanent black marker and discard. This step protects your privacy and identity.

Remember, do not share your prescription drugs with anyone. They were prescribed for your medical condition in  consideration of other medicines taken and your medical history.

Medications improperly disposed of may end up in drinking water sources, risk poisoning children and pets, or be an avenue of misuse by teenagers or adults. Proper disposal avoids health problems which may occur from accidentally taking the wrong medicine, too much of the same medication, or a drug that is too old to work well.

Some medications may be flushed. These medications have a note on the label or on the prescription handout. Only dispose of those marked as safe to flush, as others can contaminate the water/sewer systems. Please be compliant with these restrictions however tempting it may be to flush all unused drugs.

Some police departments sponsor drug take-back programs and have a container in the lobby where drugs can be deposited. Bloomfield, Suffield, Canton, Farmington, Simsbury and Windsor have such containers. Other area towns refer to their residents to these departments. East Granby, New Hartford, and Winsted have designated times in the spring/fall for drop-off. Please call the police department’s non-emergency number to inquire if they currently have restrictions, if they take needles/sharps and hours of operation.

Some pharmacies also have take-back programs; please ask your pharmacist. CVS pharmacy locations that do not currently have safe medication disposal kiosks now offer DisposeRx packets at no cost to patients filling an opioid prescription for the first time. According to the manufacturer, when water and the DisposeRx powder are added to a pill bottle with unwanted prescription medications, the combination produces a biodegradable gel, allowing for safe disposal at home.

You may also check this website: safe.pharmacy/drug-disposal, to find take-back locations.