Safe Prescription Drug Disposal
Why the Big Deal over prescription drug disposal? There are a number of issues associated with the disposal of medications.
Unneeded and expired medications that hang around forgotten and unused pose a serious social and environmental risk. Many of these medicines fetch a tidy street price and easily find their way into unauthorized hands. In family households small children may accidentally ingest them and older children may use them in good faith but with dangerous doses. Expired medicines lingering in the cabinet can be easily mistaken for recently purchased bottles.
Environmental concerns are real, as well. Trace amounts of drugs have turned up in reservoirs and drinking water, in part a result of flushing drugs down the toilet or sink and throwing them in landfills. (These substances may also be transferred to the environment when a patient takes medicine that their body does not totally metabolize. The non-metabolized drug is then eliminated from their bodies via urine and stool into the civic waste system.) The disposal of aerosol inhalers presents another problem when CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) are used as propellant. CFCs destroy our protective ozone layer and are being phased out in all sorts of products, including medicinal inhalers.
The FDA calls safe disposal precautions “risk mitigation strategy” and offers these guidelines. Common sense should tell us to read the labels on all medicines, whether pills, patches, or topical ointments. Labels contain proper disposal recommendations as well as instructions on dosage and how to take or apply the drugs.
Meanwhile, take advantage of pharmaceutical drop off stations such as those offered in Groton and New London CT. To find out about this service in your town, contact the town hall, police department or local chamber of commerce. If there isn’t a permanent drop box available, be on the lookout for “events” in which an organization provides for safe disposal at a designated time and place.
Keep your loved ones, your environment and yourself safe. Use your drugs properly and dispose of them safely.