Medicines have the power to save lives or take out lives depending on how they are used. We buy medicines to cure an ailment and forget about it once we become healthy again. Our medical cabinets might become full with unused medicines due to various reasons-the patient might be cured of the disease and the doctor would have advised to stop all medications, a new doctor would have advised different set of prescriptions, the patient shifted to another city leaving the unused medications, medicines have crossed the expiry date, the same doctor changes medications and you still have some of the older medicines unused or the patient died unexpectedly. You might wish to keep your unused medicines intact for further use but ensure that expired medications are discarded immediately as they may not be effective or ingredients may have changed. When such medicines unexpectedly fall into the hands of a child or pet, even a single dose of it could prove to be fatal. The first and foremost step is to take necessary action to discard such drugs efficiently without harming the environment.
Disposing Unwanted Medicines
Most people simply flush away medicines as it is the easiest approach, but this is never approved by the FDA as it might have an adverse effect on the environment. Read more on environmental degradation and carbon footprints at www.firsteatright.com. The FDA has a list of approved medicines that ought to be flushed due to their abuse potential. Non-approved medicines disposed off toilets and drain pipes are sure to mix with water and cause harm to fish and wildlife. Medicines contain chemicals that might not break down when flushed and such residues might end up in our drinking water too!
Some people deposit unused medicines into a box kept by an NGO or the medical shop itself. While the deed might be a generous gesture, the end result should also be a positive one. The NGOs and medical shops should take the pain of checking these medicines for their expiry date before distributing them to the needy and the people receiving it too should double check before using the free drugs to avoid any mishaps.
As a Part of Household Trash
Almost all medicines can be disposed off as household trash which include prescription pills and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as pills, inhalers, liquids, drops, patches and creams. Follow the step-by-step instruction below to dispose unwanted medications smoothly:
Disposing Hazardous Drugs
Some drugs such as powerful narcotic pain medicines might have standing instructions to flush them after use to prevent unintentional or illegal use. For example, the fentanyl patch delivers strong dose through the skin and after using the patch as per doctor recommendations, most of the medicine is sure to remain and this is one major reason for instructions to flush away the remaining contents. While this might not be the best solution, it is the best one in terms of preventing any unwanted fatalities.
Another group of medicines that is of environmental concern are inhalers used by people having asthma or similar other breathing problems. Always read the instruction set of such inhalers and aerosols before disposing them as these products prove to be hazardous if they are accidentally thrown into fire.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.