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Ask The Pharmacist: What’s The Right Way To Store and Dispose Of Medications?

Whether taking medications is part of your daily routine or only happens when you’re sick, it’s important for everyone to be educated about medication safety. Do you know the right ways to store and dispose of your medications?

In today’s Take Care article Charles Hill, a Registered Pharmacist and Director of Keystone Pharmacy, shares some medication safety tips that everyone can benefit from.

What is the right way to store medications?

Most people don’t realize that heat, air, light and moisture can damage their medication. Proper storage of your medication is very important to its effectiveness. Most medications can be stored at room temperature (68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) unless otherwise indicated. In addition to temperature, a relative humidity less than 60% will prevent moisture damage.

Some tips for proper medication storage include:

  1. Store your medication in a cool dry place (a dresser drawer, storage closet, on an open shelf or a kitchen cabinet as long as it’s located away from heat sources)
  2. Avoid storing medications in the “medicine cabinet” typically located in your bathroom. The heat and moisture from the shower, bath or sink may damage your medication
  3. Keep medications in their original dispensing containers. Prescription vials used by pharmacies are designed to keep moisture and harmful UV light away from your medication
  4. Ask your pharmacist about any specific storage instructions for your medication

For those that have children or grandchildren in their homes, proper storage should also take into account the child’s protection. Place your medicine where it will be out of reach and out of sight. You might also consider a child latch or lock

What is the proper way to dispose of unused medications?

Keeping unneeded prescription drugs in your medicine cabinet is no longer safe or responsible. If you have outdated or unwanted medications in your house, please dispose of them properly. Disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals is becoming readily available and environmentally safe through drug take-back programs.

Chambersburg has a permanent disposal site located at the Chambersburg Police Department at 116 S Second Street, Chambersburg. It’s available Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm. If you don’t live in Chambersburg, you can find the take-back location closest to you by visiting The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) website.

Additionally, many pharmacies have available for purchase drug deactivation systems, which render drugs ineffective and safe for disposal in your regular trash.

Please do not dispose of your medication down the sink or toilet. Public water treatment plants were never designed to remove pharmaceuticals from the water. Never dispose of your medication directly into your trash without first deactivating. Medications placed in trash bins end up in landfills and can leach into the ground water.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.