Spring Cleaning Should Include the Medicine Cabinet

Is your medicine cabinet full of expired medications you no longer use?

Too often, these unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands. That can be dangerous!

At Pharmacy Benefit Dimensions (PBD), our expert team of pharmacists recommend that your Spring-cleaning efforts should include disposing of your expired, unwanted or unused medicines.

Friday is National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day, an opportunity to raise awareness and rid homes of unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications that may be sitting in medicine cabinets, nightstands, kitchen cabinets or pantries.

“Drugs do expire, but the real danger lies when someone takes something they are not prescribed,” said PBD Clinical Pharmacist Dana Ranallo. “This can happen if opioid medications are left around after a person is done using them. For example, if someone uses a pain medication after a surgery to treat pain and ends up with extra medication, if they leave it lying around, it can be used accidentally or intentionally by someone else.”

How you dispose of your expired or unused medications is just as important as why. Environmental studies show that flushed medications flow into our water supply. They negatively impact the fish we eat and the water we drink. When discarded in the trash, medications leach into and contaminate the soil and can get into the hands of children or others who may abuse the drugs.

"Drugs do expire, but the REAL danger lies when someone takes something they are not prescribed."

Dana Ranallo,
PharmD Clinical Pharmacist

At-home drug disposal solutions offer one way of disposing unwanted medications. The EPA provides directions on how to dispose of medicines properly.

Take Back Method

Instead of at-home drug disposal, you may also consider participating in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA’s) National Drug Take Back Day — to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 24.

This day provides a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.

Locally, there are medication disposal sites in Erie County, New York.

Cheryll Moore, Erie County Medical Care Administrator, said there are many disposal sites that offer a free, safe and convenient way of proper disposal. You can go to any of these sites, dispose of the medications, and there are no questions asked.

“We have a robust system in place to help make it easy for people to dispose of old medications,” Moore said. “Getting unused or expired prescription drugs out of the house is critical. It’s just not smart to hoard prescription drugs.”

If you can’t make it to the drug drop off day, check your local police departments and pharmacies for drop off boxes. You can drive up and insert the medications similar to a mailbox. Google Maps also offers drop off sites on their app.


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