Keeping Your Medicine Up-To-Date
Can you find what you’re looking for in your medicine cabinet? Is that medicine you’re looking for up to date? Expired?
These days after Christmas are a good time to look at the items in your medicine cabinet. It’s really easy to get overstocked these days. Sometimes items get used once, then kept for years and never used again. Or, you get a prescription filled only to find out it doesn’t do the job or it doesn’t agree with your stomach, so your doctor prescribes something else, leaving the first to waste away in the cabinet.
The day comes when it’s time to clean that space up and dispose of the items which have reached their expiration date.
Look at the prescription medicine bottles there first. The date you received the prescription is on the label.
In particular, antibiotics you are no longer taking should be discarded. Antibiotic medications are effective for the prescribed course of treatment which is usually 10 to 14 days. After that, they are not effective.
Non-prescription medications also have expiration dates. You may have to look closely or get a magnifying glass to find the date on the bottom, the lid, or the label. If they are more than two years old, they are no longer potent.
Make-up and skin care products also have expiration dates. Once make-up is opened and exposed to air and light, the substance has a limited time frame for use. Old skin care products can become tainted with bacteria, so if you haven’t used them in a year, throw it out.
Do you have an inhaler for asthma or other breathing problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? Inhalers may contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a propellant that damages the protective ozone layer. CFCs have been phased out of inhalers and are being replaced with more environmentally safer inhalers by the end of this year. Inhalers and aerosol products could be dangerous if punctured or thrown into a fire or incinerator. To ensure safe disposal that complies with local regulations and laws, contact your local trash and recycling facility.
Though for some medications, flushing is the recommended way of disposal, it is best not to flush all old products and medicines down the toilet or the sink. Pharmaceuticals and skin-care products can pollute water with chemicals which affect fish and water plants. See if your local household hazardous-waste collection program accepts expired or unused medicines. Check to see if your pharmacy has a drug recycling program that disposes of unused or expired drugs in an environmentally safe manner.
When you are discarding medications, mark out your name and address, and the prescription number on the labels, for protection of your identity and to prevent others from using your name and number to obtain a prescription fraudulently, if they should find the bottles.
To help dispose of unused medications properly, the National Community Pharmacists Association has launched a “Dispose My Meds” campaign. More than 800 community pharmacies in 40 states have signed on. It’s easy. Just bring the drugs to a participating pharmacy, and it will send them to a medical-waste-disposal facility. Instead of putting them in the trash which winds up in the landfill and possibly a water supply, find a local drop-off center at DISPOSE myMEDS
Make certain that prescription medications are kept in a temperature-controlled, dry cabinet and are secured from those who may abuse them or from children who might swallow them accidentally.
Your medications, particularly your prescription medications, are expensive and valuable for your health, so take the time to make sure that the meds you take are effective and are maintained safely and securely.
For more information about disposing of medications, please see the website of the Food and Drug Administration, “How to dispose of Unused Medicines”
Any thoughts or ideas? We’d love to hear them.