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-by Randi Sayles, PharmD., Clinical Pharmacist at Orange City Area Health System

Medications, if taken correctly, are important for treating or preventing many conditions. However, what happens if you are told to stop taking a medication? What should you do with those extra pills?

To avoid others accidentally taking your medications, it is recommended you remove expired, unwanted, or unused medications from your residence as soon as possible. Unfortunately, accidents can happen every day with medications – intentional overdoses, children mistaking pills for candy, etc. We encourage you to protect your loved ones by removing these potentially dangerous agents. You should never sell or share your prescription medications. Below you will find a summary of ways to remove unwanted or unused medications.

Prescription Drug Take-Back Programs

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The next DEA Take-Back day is scheduled for October 26, 2019. On this day, patients can safely dispose of medications at collection sites that are set-up nationwide. The Sioux County Sheriff’s office is participating in this event from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. In addition, the Sioux County Sheriff’s office has a collection site (Med Return Drug Collection Unit) located in their lobby that patients can dispose of medications 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In addition, most local pharmacies have a mechanism to dispose of unwanted medications. This month, we suggest you look over the medications in your household and dispose of any medications you are no longer using. Don’t forget those short-term medications you may not have used all of. For example, patients are often prescribed pain medications short-term following a surgery. These medications can be dangerous if taken incorrectly or taken by the wrong person. We encourage you to look through all of your medications and eliminate any unused or expired medications.

Disposing in Household Trash:

If disposing of medications at a DEA-approved site is not available to you, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends following these steps to dispose of most medications:

  • Mix: Mix medicine (do not crush) with dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds
  • Place: Place mixture in a sealed plastic bag
  • Throw: Throw the bag in your trash
  • Scratch Out: Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of the empty pill bottle to make it unreadable, then dispose of the container

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