General Question

afghanhound's avatar

Do you care about safely disposing of medications?

Asked by afghanhound (85 points ) January 11th, 2013

Does safe medicine disposal matter to you?

If it does matter to you, what makes it matter (do you have children, do you care about the affecting the water supply, etc?)?

If it doesn’t matter to you, why do you think that is?

Would you pay $4 or $5 for a product that will dispose of medication safely? Why?

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28 Answers

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Yes, now that I am more informed on the issue, I think it is of utmost importance!

afghanhound's avatar

Zephyra, what makes it important to you?

Judi's avatar

We were pretty upset when the hospice nurse flushed my moms pain and anxiety meds into the sewer system. We would have taken them back to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Environmental safety. Water supply issues concern me.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

I don’t have any children and my pets aren’t currently living with me, so I don’t really care about it right now. When the sitution changes I will.

I wouldn’t flush it though and put it into our water, I would just throw it away. I feel that if somebody is going through the trash anyway, they’re probably not that healthy to begin with.

diavolobella's avatar

I am concerned about it being in the water supply. I generally don’t throw away my medications. If it’s a prescription, I generally take it as prescribed and so I use it all. OTC stuff I use up before the expiration date. If I was going to get rid of some, I’d take it to a pharmacy for disposal.

zenvelo's avatar

It’s important to keep them out of the water supply. I take any leftover meds to the local police department collection every summer.

JLeslie's avatar

I throw them in the trash. If it is a needle I make sure it is in a container. I don’t have any diseases that would be communicated to another by injection, but if someone were to get stuck they would have no way to know it was safe.

Does throwing pills into the trash get into the water supply?

Seek's avatar

Every prescription I’ve ever had has been used completely. Pain medicine is important to keep in the cupboard. Sure I’m feeling great and don’t need it right now, but damned if my husband isn’t going to have another work accident and need that stuff. Since we’re working-class Americans, we handle about 90% of our own healthcare. Waste not, want not.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’m not at all concerned about non-antibiotic disposal. Antibiotics should be disposed of carefully so that they don’t end up in waste water, because that can degrade their effectiveness on the classes of bacteria that they are targeted against.

I suppose if I had to dispose of anti-viral medications (if I even knew of any that were handled by the general public), then I would also be so concerned.

In both of those cases, landfill disposal should be adequate, since modern landfills are designed to eliminate or at least minimize groundwater runoff.

With other meds, including palliatives of all kinds, I have no problem with flushing into septic systems or community sewer systems.

Pachy's avatar

I can’t recall ever having medication left over from a prescription, but if I do in the future, this question has sensitized me to what I now consider a very important environmental issue. Thanks for that, @afghanhound

marinelife's avatar

I do think about the water supply, but I don’t have any means of disposing of old medicine.

gailcalled's avatar

@marinelife: Returning anything unused to your pharmacy seems a very sensible idea.

If you put it in the trash, it goes to the land fill where it may be compacted and may end up in the water table.

zenvelo's avatar

@CWOTUS Sewage systems are incapable of getting all of that out of the water during treatment. It has led to wide spread water table contamination through out the country, enough to get into the food supply.

Police Departments through out the US have medication disposal programs. Call your police department for information, they can tell you where and how to dispose of old medication.

syz's avatar

My town has a free drug dispasal program twice yearly that I take advantage of.

Coloma's avatar

The last medication I needed to dispose of were a couple of extra, unused syringes of “Oxy-cat-on”, a controlled pain killer given to my cat for his rattlesnake bite last July.
I ended up squeezing them out into a bunch of napkins and tying them up in a bag to go in the trash. I seriously doubt this caused any harm. If I had a lot of something I would take it for proper disposal but it is not something I am overly concerned about, no.

glacial's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, it does. Landfill sits around for a good, long time, and rain will allow all kinds of compounds to leach from it, even if it is sheltered. Any medication you throw in the garbage will eventually leach into the soil and eventually into the groundwater. It’s not good.

Rarebear's avatar

Yes. I live near a river where the water is treated and then dumped.

burntbonez's avatar

There’s a suspicion that the reduction in male sperm counts is related to the amount of female hormones such as estrogen and similar substances that are getting into the water supply and the food supply. They also think it is having other effects. Estrogen is in a lot of things. There’s also concern about steroids getting into the water supple.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

So how long is it before all the guys grow real boobs then?

Responsible disposal of medicine is down to a number of things not just environmental. Carelessly discarded medicine could be picked up by kids not knowing any better – there’s a mishap waiting to happen right there – then there’s the homeless, some of who are so desperate for anything that they would perceive to be good – like getting high off of something (they have been known to drink white spirits just to get drunk – so it’s not an impossibility). It’s just a matter of greater general concern that proper disposal of medicine is the responsible thing to do.
Not sure what it’s like for folks in the States, but in the UK we just drop old and unused meds off at a pharmacist and they dispose of it appropriately.

Unbroken's avatar

I have been concerned in the past. Well I still am. Why because I drink water and eat fish. Yes its filtered but only to a degree.

I usually end up selling or giving away painkillers. Antibiotics I need to take the full dose to be effective unless i am allergic steroids and immunosuppressents beta blockers etc i do have end up with extra of. I usually take the ones with the soonest expiration date and save the others for a rainy day. The fact that I will probably need these meds for the rest of my life and am dependent on them makes me a haorder in that regard. A trip an ellimination of health care a shortage in pills no matter how irrational the fact that i need them and cannot make them makes me hold on.

I tried to take some painkillers back to the pharmacy. They looked at me like I was turning green. Throw them out. So I tossed them in with my used cat litter. I was dropping my trash at a pick up center or transit site and there are a significant amount of people that scavenge.

That is why I now sell or give them away to people who can’t afford them but need them.

So how does the pharmacy properly dispose of them for those of you who have centers for that purpose?

Blackberry's avatar

I always threw them in the trash. I had no idea they could have detrimental effects until now.

gailcalled's avatar

@rosehips: They grind them up and add to the Chicken McNugget packages?

I’ll will ask the pharmacist the next time I am there.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I rarely have meds that need to be thrown away. They are usually used up. When I do throw something out I simply toss it in the burnable bag that goes into the wood burning stove. Done.

chyna's avatar

I have a bag of meds left over from my mom. I have missed my towns drug disposal but hope to get them to the next one. I don’t want to put them in the garbage and then taken to the dump as I’m afraid dogs or birds will get to them. Or possibly, they will get into the water supply.

dabbler's avatar

Antibiotics are rare in this household, only for dental surgery and that sort of thing where the risk of not taking them is clear. And we’ll take the full course of those.
The painkillers, from pretty much the same events, we never use all of, and I save ‘em for an emergency.
I.e. We don’t have any meds to dispose of.

Unbroken's avatar

@gailcalled lol no wonder why I always wanted more nuggets.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^ Let’s hear it, once again, for real food.

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