Proper Disposal of Old Medications

What to do with your old medications?

The government of Canada says that expired and unused medications can be misused if you leave them in your medicine cabinet too long.

Taking expired or medications that are no longer effective could have a serious impact on a person, especially when mixed with other medications. If they are no longer effective, you could be relying on that medication to perform a job that it is no longer capable of doing.

Drugs may not be safe for everyone. What others are prescribed may not be healthy for you to take. The proper disposal of medications should be followed to ensure drugs don’t end up in the wrong hands.

Gather up all your expired or unused medications. This includes prescriptions, over the counter medications or natural health products. Bring this collection to your local pharmacist. If you are unsure about something, bring it with you and your pharmacist can help you determine if that specific medication is still safe to take based on your other medications. It is important not to flush your medications down the toilet or sink. The chemicals in the drugs can make it past the water treatment plants and end up in the lake.

If you are unable to leave your home, you can throw them out in your garbage by taking these steps:

  • Remove the medications from their containers. Protect your identity by scratching out or removing the sticker with your name on it.
  • Do not throw the drugs into the trash without first disguising them in something like coffee grounds or kitty litter and seal them in a bag or container. You do not want people looking through trash to know you have these medications in your home.
  • When in doubt, always call your pharmacist on the best practice to dispose of your medications.

In the case of private home care, the Personal Support Workers can and will monitor medications for clients and report to management should their be any discrepancies. In such cases where missed medications occur, those medications are removed from the home and returned to the Pharmacy for proper and safe disposal.