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Dispose of drugs safely at ‘Take-Back Prescription Drug’ day

Dispose of drugs safely at ‘Take-Back Prescription Drug’ day

Holding on to unused pills “just in case?” Don’t. Three out of four prescription drug overdoses involve opioid painkillers such as codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin and generics), and oxycodone (Percocet and generics), leftover drugs that people may have in their medicine cabinets.

On Saturday Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can safely get rid of those leftovers, and other old prescription drugs too, during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, a free and anonymous event. Since the initiative began in September 2010, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and participating local law enforcement agencies have collected more than 2.8 million pounds (1,409 tons) of prescription medications from the public. To find collection sites in your area, visit www.dea.gov and click on the “Got Drugs?” icon.

Concerned about drug safety? Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs can help.

If you miss Saturday’s Take-Back Day or if there’s no collection site near you, many pharmacies will take back and properly dispose of over-the-counter and most prescription medications year-round. Also, it’s OK to throw away most drugs with your regular garbage, provided you take some precautions.

  • Remove the drug from its original container and mix it with a substance that makes it less appealing and unrecognizable, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter.
  • Then put the mixture in a sealable plastic bag or other container that won’t leak, and toss it in the trash.
  • Be sure to remove or scratch out all identifying information on the labels first, to protect your privacy.
  • Consider recycling your empty prescription bottles.

Flushing drugs down the toilet usually isn’t a good idea because trace amounts of prescription drugs might end up in the water supply. But flushing can make sense with some potent prescription drugs, such as the fentanyl patch (Duragesic) and meperidine hydrochloride (Demerol) tablets, to reduce the risk of accidentally taking those drugs. The Food and Drug Administration has prepared a list of some medications that they recommend you flush because they may be especially harmful or even deadly if ingested by children, pets, or anyone else in your home.

­­– Ginger Skinner

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