Spring Cleaning - Get Unused Medications Out of Your Home

May 6, 2014

By Barret Procyshyn

Manitoba pharmacists care about keeping you and your family safe and healthy, so we want to convey the important message of not having expired or unused medications in your home. With National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day happening on Saturday, May 10 there is not a better time to do some spring cleaning on your medication cabinet.

Once you read this article, take action. Go to your medication cabinet, sort through your medications and remove any medications you are not currently using, or those which have expired. Once completed, bring them down to your local pharmacy so they can properly be disposed of. We need you to take action to ensure your safety and your familys safety.

Removing these medications out of your home protects young people. Our children and teenagers belong to the most curious age group, so if you have medications lying around they may be tempted to find them. A young child could potentially think they are candy or a toy leading to accidental poisoning. Statistics now show 1 in 5 teenagers will try experimenting with prescription or over the counter drugs. Unfortunately the medication cabinet has become a place teenagers go to and having more medications in homes than necessary increases the risk of a serious problem. Along with curiosity and the misconception prescription and over the counter medications are safe, access to these medications can lead to deadly consequences. To limit the risk of accidental poisoning, keep medications in your home to a minimum and in a safe, secure location.

A cluttered medication cabinet in the home of a senior can lead to serious health problems. We only want to have current medications available to the patient so they are taking the proper medication at the right dose. I have seen customers taking the wrong dose of blood thinners or the wrong type of blood pressure pills because they did not dispose of the old medication. Medications like eye drops, creams and insulin also need to be kept current. If you are a friend or family member who is concerned your loved one may have unused medication lying around; give them a call or pay them a visit to remind them to discard their meds at their local pharmacy.

If you are throwing your medications in the garbage, down the sink or flushing them in the toilet, you are not discarding them safely and in fact are harming the environment. Medications thrown in the garbage could still be removed and used by the wrong person. This can also be very dangerous for pets if they were to get into the trash. Medications thrown down the sink or toilet can end up in our water supply. Canadians are known for their clean and safe water supply, so we do not need to be contaminating it with unneeded medications.

Medications taken to a pharmacy are disposed of through an approved process of incineration. Pharmacies are able to accept prescription pills, capsules, over the counter medications, bottled liquids, patches and inhalers. Medications in vials, blister packs or even loose medications are all accepted. Sharps, insulin needles or any medications involving needles should be disposed of in sharps containers, which are available at most pharmacies. Manitoba pharmacists take pride in being trusted with patient confidentiality and all medications dropped off for disposal are kept anonymous.

If you look into your medication cabinet right now you will likely find some type of medication that you will not use or has already expired. With National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day on Saturday, May 10 it is a great time to do a spring cleaning on all of your medications. Most importantly, remember that keeping your medication current should be an ongoing process and you can drop off unused medication at any Manitoba pharmacy, at any time.


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