Last updated: May 30. 2014 10:12AM - 277 Views
Alyssa Davis PharmD

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Many people deep clean their homes during the spring. In fact, spring cleaning often follows the “out with the old, in with the new” mindset. Your medicine cabinet should not be any different.

When cleaning out a medicine cabinet, the first thing to look for is expired medications. It is easy to forget that over the counter (OTC) medications expire. It is important to replace these medications if you use them often. Remember to keep certain staples in your medicine cabinet, including: cough and cold medications, Tylenol, and Benadryl.

Additionally, it is important to search the medicine cabinet for prescription bottles without their original pharmacy label. Keeping prescription medications in their original bottle with an intact label is very important. If the label is removed from the bottle, the medication may be confused with a different medication and may be taken inappropriately.

It is also important to identify unfinished medications, like antibiotics. Many people stop taking the antibiotic when the infection clears up. They might even save the antibiotic for later use. This is inappropriate! It is very important to finish the course of the antibiotic in order to completely get rid of the bacteria causing the infection. Additionally, several antibiotics are extremely toxic once they expire. Taking these expired antibiotics may be harmful to your health. If unfinished medications are found and have not been used recently, discard them.

It is very important to dispose of medications properly. For example, needles used to administer insulin should be placed in sharps containers and disposed of correctly. If you are unsure of how to dispose of your medication, ask your pharmacist. Routinely, pharmacies will host a “take-back” program to dispose of unused or expired medications.

According to the FDA, if there is not a take-back program available, you may remove the drug from its bottle, mix it with an undesirable substance, such as kitty litter or coffee grounds, place it in a sealable bag or empty can, and place it in the household trash container. In Sampson County, the Clinton Police Department is the designated location for medication drop-off for proper disposal. Talk to your pharmacist or call the Clinton Police Department at 910-592-3105 for more information.

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