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Storing and Disposing Medication

jeauxbertjjeauxbert Posts: 953
edited 06/20/2016 - 10:07 AM in Spine-Health Announcements
Hello my fellow Spineys!

The following information was obtained from the website of CVS Pharmacy. As I was reading this, I thought it might be beneficial to pass this along. Most is common sense, but it's worth mentioning... Hope you all have many pain-free moments today!

Safe Medication Storage at Home
Appropriate storage of medications, vitamins and supplements in the home is essential for their proper use and safety. Storing medications properly is especially important in homes with small children, elderly or disabled family members, or in homes where children or grandchildren may visit. Keeping your medications stored properly will also keep medications in the physical condition that helps them work best for you. Here are a few simple steps you can use at home to help you store your medication appropriately.

Clean Out the Clutter
At least once a year, you should check the labels on all of your medications. Medications that are past their expiration date, that have a change in color, smell, texture, or medicines that you are no longer taking should be disposed of properly. Expired medications may not work as well for you, or may even be harmful. All medications kept in storage should be in-date, clearly labeled and stored in their original containers. Never combine different medications into a single bottle. If you ever find a bottle of pills without a label, throw out the contents. Medications that are in-date and taken as directed by your doctor will work the best for you, and will have the lowest risk of side effects.

A Place for Everything
Storing your medications in the correct environments ensures that they will stay in the best condition to be the most effective for you. Some medications need to be refrigerated, while others should be protected from light. Check with your pharmacist if you are not sure. Most tablets, capsules, creams, lotions, or liquids are best kept in a cool, dry place at room temperature between 59°F and 86°F. Avoid keeping medicines in direct sunlight, and avoid extreme hot or cold temperatures as well as humidity. For these reasons, it is generally not a good idea to store your medications in a bathroom medicine cabinet or in the kitchen. It is also not a good idea to leave your medications in your car for long periods of time, which can become either very hot or very cold depending on the time of day. Never carry your medications in your pocket, where your body heat can damage them. Your pharmacist can help you determine the best storage conditions for your medications.

Special Considerations for Kids
Purses, the pocket of a jacket, or a pillbox are places where a child can easily find your medication, possibly resulting in poisoning. If medications must be carried in a purse or jacket, keep them in a secure pillbox, and never carry more than you need for the day. In your own home, keep all medications securely locked in a childproof cabinet. All medications should be stored in tightly closed child-resistant packaging. For those who require non-safety caps on the medicine bottles, be certain to keep these vials out of the reach of children and grandchildren who may be visiting. If you witness a child swallowing any of your medicines, contact the National Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

How Should I Dispose of My Medicine?
Studies show that pharmaceutical waste is present in the water we use and that certain drugs may harm our environment. Unfortunately, there are no waste treatment plants in the United States that are engineered to remove potentially harmful drugs from sewage. With this in mind, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy came up with the first consumer guidelines for the proper disposal of prescription medications in February 2007. The guidelines say that if you need to dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired medications you may:

take the drugs out of their original containers and throw them in the trash
as an extra precaution, mix the drugs with coffee grounds or kitty litter or some other undesirable substance, then put them in an empty can or sealed bag before throwing them out.

Federal guidelines say do not flush drugs down the toilet. The only exception is if the drug's instructions specifically tell you to flush them down the toilet. Pharmacies, water districts, or solid and hazardous waste agencies may sponsor take back programs to which you can bring unused medications. Check locally with these agencies or with your pharmacy for more information.

After getting rid of all the outdated pills you don't need anymore, you'll have plenty of space for those that you do.

--Karen Saenko, PharmD candidate with Allyson L. Wojtaszek, PharmD

Updated: September 26, 2007 by Rachel Maynard, PharmD Candidate and Deborah M. Johns, PharmD

--American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. SafeMedication.com. Available at: http://www.safemedication.com/index.cfm. Accessed September 8, 2007.

--American Association of Poison Control Centers. Poison Prevention Tips for Children. Available at: http://www.aapcc.org/children.html. Accessed September 15, 2003.

--Council on Family Health. Medicine Storage and Safety Tips. Available at: http://www.cfhinfo.org/educationResources/ 2002_MedicineStorageandSafetyTips.html. Accessed September 5, 2003.

--National Safety Council. How to Prevent Poisonings in the Home. Available at:http://www.nsc.org/pages/home.aspx. Accessed September 5, 2003.


  • I saw another disposal method recently. I forget where is saw it.

    They recommend just placing the medicine in a good seal-able plastic container, large pill bottle etc and filling it with liquid soap. Place the cap on the container and throw it in the trash.

    The soap makes the medicine undesirable for anyone to attempt to take it as it gels the whole mess. Being in a smallish sealed plastic bottle helps keep it out of the environment as there is a fair chance the bottle may survive internment into a landfill.
  • Those plastic containers will likely be here after the earth has imploded and turned into a black hole!
  • I would just like to add a story as to storing medication and children.

    You'd think I'd know better as an ER nurse, but it just goes to show it can happen to anyone. My husband and I were about to leave(by ourselves) on a vacation and I was just waiting for my mom to pick up our then almost two year old. Things suddenly became very quiet in the house(bad, bad, sign when you have a young child) and I went into the bedroom. My child had climbed up on our bed(which was on risers and I didn't even know she could do it), unzipped our suitcase, found a child-resistant bottle of ibuprofen, opened it, and was sitting on the floor eating them like M&M's.

    I'm happy it was just ibuprofen, not Tylenol or a prescription med(yeah, used syrup of ipecac, should always have that in house with kids, have to ask at the pharmacy for it, it is OTC but usually kept behind the counter.) But I never would have thought that would have happened.

    Also, always remember to sharpie out the labels on bottles or remove the labels when you throw an empty away. You never know who might go through your garbage and decide the "good stuff" might still be inside.
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