Ways to Dispose of Old Medication

pharmacy technician

Many of us have medications at home that we no longer need or use. Heck, we might not even remember why we had them in the first place. Some of the medications might have been prescribed to us and filled by a pharmacy technician. Others might have been purchased over the counter.

The question many of us end up asking ourselves, after looking at that drawer stuffed with expired medications, is how can I get rid of it all and do so safely?

To get to the bottom of that predicament, we reached out to one of our resident Concorde experts, Scott Prophet, Pharmacy Technician Program Director at Concorde's campus in Tampa, Fla. Prophet pointed us to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website (www.fda.gov) which lays out specific methods to use when dispensing old medications.

Dispose of medications as a Pharmacy Technician would

Unfortunately, there isn't just one simple answer to the question of how to dispose of medication. There are several things that must be considered. Some include:

  • Are any of the medications controlled substances?
  • What is the medication used to treat and should I still be taking it?
  • Medications that are safe for one person might not be for another.
  • The way the medication is administered might not allow for a simple method of disposal.
  • Could the drug I want to dispose of actually be a hazardous substance?

Fortunately, the Drug Enforcement Administration and FDA have provided some answers to some of these considerations and some tools to help with disposal.

In the case of medications that are controlled substances, the DEA sponsors National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. This program allows consumers to turn in prescribed drugs to law enforcement officials who then properly dispose of them. Local law enforcement and the DEA can be contacted to find out where and when these medications can be turned in.

Finding answers with your local Pharmacy Technician

If a medication has yet to expire and someone isn't sure why they were taking it to begin with and whether they should still be taking it, your local pharmacist or Pharmacy Technician is a great resource. They have the expert knowledge to inform us what conditions a drug can be used for treating and often let a consumer know if they should dispose of the medication or speak with their physician to find out if it should still be used.

The FDA lists two ways of disposing of expired medications:

  • Flushing medication down the toilet
  • Disposing of medicines in household trash

Visit the FDA website to determine which method is the safest for the drug you need to dispose of. The website contains all the information consumers need to safely dispose of medications that no longer are needed. Once the proper method of disposal has been determined, the site also provides some very specific methods and tools to use for disposal. It even dispels a myth or two about how safe it is to use certain methods of disposal.

pharmacy technician

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