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Why Keeping Expired Medications Is a Bad Idea

When was the last time you cleaned out your medicine cabinet? Taking a few minutes to sort through and safely dispose of medicine that’s expired or no longer needed is important for your health and the safety of others. 

Why Safe Disposal Is Necessary

Taking medicine past its expiration date can be risky. Once a medicine is expired, the chemical makeup can change so it may not work like it’s supposed to. Drugs may also decrease in strength over time so they aren’t as effective as they should be. And if a medicine sits around too long, it can grow bacteria that could also make you sick.

In addition, prescription medicine abuse is a major problem. Keeping medicine that’s expired or no longer needed in your home means other people in your life could have access to it. Most people who abuse prescription medicines, for instance, get them from family or friends.

How to Safely Dispose of Medicine

Check your medicine labels. Some provide instructions for how to safely dispose of them. Never flush medicine down the sink or toilet unless the label directs you to do so.

If there are no instructions, a drug take-back program is the best way to dispose of medicine. Each year there are two National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days where you can bring unused or expired drugs to an authorized location.

You can also turn medication in for disposal year-round. To find an authorized collector, visit https://takebackday.dea.gov and click on “Collection Site Locator.”

Safely disposing of medicines take a few extra steps, but it will make a big difference for keeping you and your loved ones safe. 

© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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