At least once a year you should undertake to clean out your medicine cabinet and drawers. Almost all medication comes with an expiration date which needs to be respected. In addition, you can let go of any prescription medication that you are no longer using. There is no reason for it to be lying around causing clutter and confusion and it can even pose a risk in households with young children or scatterbrained adults.
Don’t stockpile medicine or buy it in large quantities as this just means you are more likely to have to throw more away.
How to dispose of unwanted medication is a tricky question. The FDA has the following recommendations, which apply to both prescription and non-prescription drugs, concerning proper disposal :
- Start by looking at the label to see if there are specific instructions regarding its disposal.
- The absolute best method of disposing of medications is to bring them to an organization that collects unused drugs. Here in France, we can take leftover medication to any pharmacy and they are responsible for disposing of it properly. You may have to search a little harder, but with a little luck, there may be a drug collection organization in your community.
- Many people flush drugs down the toilet as that is a way to insure that no one else will accidentally or purposefully ingest the drug. However, although many of the hormones and drugs found in our water system come from human and animal excretions, it is not a good idea to add to the problem with wanton flushing.
- As a last-ditch solution, you may feel comfortable throwing the medication away in your trash. You should remove the medication from its container and mix it with something undesirable (the FDA recommendations mentions cat litter), so that someone or something does not end up ingesting it.
To learn more about correct drug disposal, consult the FDA Consumer Updates.