Open your medicine cabinet. Does it look like a pharmacy of unused amber-colored prescription bottles? If you’re of holding onto those medications “just in case,” you could be putting yourself and your loved ones in danger.
When it comes to disposing expired or unused medication, consumers should ask to flush or not to flush? The Food and Drug Administration recommends flushing certain medicines down the toilet as quick and effective method to dispose of medication that could be harmful a child, pet, or anyone else if taken accidentally. According to the FDA, some of the possible harmful effects include breathing difficulties or heart problems, possibly leading to death.
The FDA has a complete list of drugs recommended for flushing.
The FDA refutes rumors of harmful health side effects prescription drug flushing.
“We are aware of recent reports that have noted trace amounts of medicines in the water system,” the FDA states on their safe disposal website. “The majority of medicines found in the water system are a result of the body’s natural routes of drug elimination (in urine or feces). Scientists, to date, have found no evidence of harmful effects to human health from medicines in the environment.”
As an alternative to flushing prescriptions, the Drug Enforcement Agency is hosting National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 28. Law enforcement agencies, drug stores, medical facilities, and even churches are willing to collect your unwanted or expired medications and dispose of them properly.
During the last Drug Take-Back Day on Oct. 29, the DEA reported more than 377,086 pounds or 188.5 tons of medications were surrendered at at 5,327 disposal sites. Combined with the three previous take-back events, the DEA reports that 9995,185 or 498.5 tons of medication was taken out of circulation in the past 13 months.
Find a prescription drug take-back location near you.
If you can’t make it to a take-back location and you’re reluctant to flush your medicine, the FDA says you can dispose of prescription drugs in your household garbage if you:
- Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds;
- Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag
- Throw the container in your household trash.
-Follow Elise Rambaud Marrion, @emarrion_cmn.