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sccrowell's avatar

What do you do with your expired medication?

Asked by sccrowell (3425 points ) October 3rd, 2009 from iPhone

As I cleaned my refrigerator, I noticed some out dated prescriptions. Some of them mine, a couple belonged to@wtf’s cat that died, and NO it wasn’t due to not getting his meds. I’ve found some in my cupboard that are not expired, but no longer taking. What about vitamins, liquid and tablet form? If I flush them, what does that do to the water in the long run? If I toss them then it ends up either in the landfills and will that contaminate the soil any worse than the garbage or worse? What about the good old dumpster divers? (although we don’t have a dumpster.) We do have garbage cans…

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14 Answers

Grisaille's avatar

Step 1: mortar and pestle

Step 2: form clean line

Step 3: snort

rooeytoo's avatar

Some I just keep using, others I flush. Now everytime I do it, I will worry I am polluting the water. But really I think the earth would filter everything out before it can cause trouble.

Webzilla's avatar

You should never flush your medication. Bring it back to your pharmacy where it can be disposed of properly.

rooeytoo's avatar

No way, I paid for it. They would probably repackage and resell!

ESV's avatar

I don’t medicate myself but if I was and there was some left that be expired I’d donate it to poison control so they would do their lab experiments.

chyna's avatar

@Webzilla The pharmacies in my town won’t take them back. They have no suggestion as to how to destroy them other than to not flush and don’t put in the garbage. They would end up in a land fill where animals can eat them. This is a really good question that I need the answer to also. My mother has a mayonaisse jar full of old prescriptions and vitamins.

Cupcake's avatar

From this NYS website:

Why Not Flush?

* Flushed medications can get into our lakes, rivers and streams
Pharmaceuticals enter our wastewater from a variety of sources including the flushing of unused medications. A nationwide study done in 1999 and 2000 by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) found low levels of drugs such as antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80% of the rivers and streams tested.
* Fish and other aquatic wildlife are being adversely affected
A number of studies have shown impacts on aquatic life. For example, male fish have been feminized (produced eggs) when exposed to hormones (birth control pills). Other drugs, such as anti-depressants and beta-blockers, reduce fertility or affect spawning in certain aquatic organisms.
* Drug-resistant bacteria might develop
Long-term exposure to low levels of antibiotics might result in the evolution of, or selection for, drug-resistant microbes and bacteria.

Before placing in the trash, follow these steps:
* To avoid accidental or intentional misuse of drugs, treat medications (liquids and pills) by adding water and then salt, ashes, dirt, cat litter, coffee grounds, or another undesirable substance.
* Hide all medications in an outer container, such as sealable bag, box or plastic tub to prevent discovery and removal from the trash. Seal the container with strong tape.
* Dispose of drugs as close to your trash collection day as possible to avoid misuse and/or misdirection.
* Do not conceal discarded drugs in food to prevent consumption by scavenging humans, pets or wildlife.

Note: Be careful in handling medications. Some drugs can cause harm if handled by people other than those to whom they were prescribed. Also, avoid crushing pills as some medications can be harmful in powder form.

casheroo's avatar

I place pills (I guess liquid could be done the same way) into ziplock backs and just toss it in the trash. Or I put them in the diaper pail, so no one would want to touch that…plus that stuff is already toxic lol.

Response moderated
Webzilla's avatar

I’m sorry to hear that your pharmacy won’t take them back and I realise your against throwing them in the trash but I have gotten sound advice that says that the only other option you have is the trash.
If you grind up pills, disollve them in water and then soak them up with saw dust or cat litter they are most likely to be left alone and not ingested. Also by watering it down you are diluting the effects of it. You can also do this with liquid medicines.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Unattributed copy & paste removed.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

What I’ve been doing is similar to @casheroo. If I have a container of yogurt or milk that went bad, I’ll dump them in there and put the cap back on, and throw it out. They say that plastic takes a couple hundred years to break down, so in my mind, I hope that the bacteria and other creepy crawlies inside will have broken the pills down into something not as bad before the plastic breaks down. Plus, like @casheroo said, one whiff and no one would get near it.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Cupcake – that is an interesting link, thank you.

Cupcake's avatar

@rooeytoo – sure thing. I’m sure each locality has slightly different advice… but this website is helpful.

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