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If you’re taking prescription medicine, you’re probably on a steady schedule and rarely miss a dose. But there could be medicine that falls on the wayside and ends up in your bathroom cabinet. It sits on the shelves and reaches it expiry date. Or, maybe you have children and you don’t want them finding and playing around with potentially dangerous medication.

We’ll take you through how to get rid of medicine at home and the proper method of disposal.

Can You Flush Medicine Down the Drain?

It may be commonplace to flush medicine down the drain, and depending on the medicine, it may be possible to flush down the toilet. It is instinct to just flush it down the toilet and let the water system take care of it.

However, flushing medicine down the drain is not the safest way to dispose of medicine. You may be causing further harm to the water treatment facilities because they will have to identify what medicine ended up there and how they’ll get rid of it.

Here’s what the FDA says on flushing medication down the toilet:

“Because some medicines could be especially harmful to others, they have specific directions to immediately flush them down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed, and a take-back option is not readily available.

How will you know? Check the label or the patient information leaflet with your medicine. Or consult the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing when a take-back option is not readily available.”

When in Doubt, Throw It Out

If you’re not sure if your medicine is expired or where to throw it out, sometimes the best course of action is just throwing it out in the regular waste bin.

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If you live with children, it’s important that they don’t come in contact with the medicine. If you are throwing out medicine in the garbage, make sure it’s somewhere a child won’t be able to access it.

Paul Taylor at The Globe and Mail explains more on the effects of improper disposal of medicines at home:

“The Canadian recommendations arise from growing concerns about the effects of pharmaceutical products on aquatic life. Medications literally pass through patients, ending up in their urine and feces. Many waste-treatment plants can’t remove the drugs before the water is released back into the environment, Health Canada spokesperson Anna Maddison said in an e-mail. Deliberately dumping drugs down the drain only makes this problem worse.”

Take Medicine Back to the Pharmacy

If you are not sure how to dispose of your medicine, it may be best to contact the pharmacy you got it from.

As well, any local pharmacy near you will also be able to advise you on the proper method of disposal. Just call or visit them in person, bring your medication, and ask them if they’ll be able to properly dispose of it.

Pharmacies actually have a medical waste disposal bin where medicine and medical supplies are thrown away.

Here’s some more advice from the FDA on what the best course of action is to dispose of medicines at home:

“Medicine take back options are the best way to safely dispose of most types of unneeded or expired prescription and over the counter medicines.

Note that there are a few, select medicines with specific instructions to immediately flush down the toilet only if a drug take back option is not readily available.”

We offer a wide variety of waste disposal options, with services readily available online. Reach out to us to see what we can offer you.

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