Most households keep over-the-counter (OTC) medications and leftover prescription medicine, thinking that they will be used at some point down the road. Does the mere knowledge of a disease and its respective medicine makes it safer for you to take these medicines after a period of time?
Firstly, let’s understand OTC and prescription medications.
"Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicines" refers to medications that are legally sold by pharmacists without a prescription, e.g, Aspirin, Psyllium husk, Laxatives, Antacids, etc.
A Prescription drug is one that can only be given to a patient under the written directions of a licensed healthcare provider. Blood pressure pills, cancer medications, and potent analgesics are a few examples of prescription medications.
Expired medicine can be life-threatening.
Expired medical products may become less effective or risky due to changes in chemical composition or strength. Sub-potent antibiotics and some expired medications may fail to treat the infection, leading to more serious ailments and antibiotic resistance. The safety and effectiveness of the medicine are not guaranteed after the expiration date. Therefore, do not consume medicines after their expiry date.
Example, taking expired Tetracycline antibiotic can cause Fanconi syndrome (a rare form of kidney damage that prevents your body from absorbing electrolytes).
Can produce some other side effects or ailments
Even if the drug is not expired still you should not hoard the drug just because of the mere thought that if you got the same infection or disease it will come in handy.
As Alexander Pope said, "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
When a doctor prescribes medicine he takes several factors into account such as your biological well-being, or if you are taking some other medications, any chronic diseases, etc. It’s not necessary that your body physiology would be the same as before. So, always consult a doctor before taking any medications.
When to Dispose of Medications
When your prescription is changed and you are still having some leftover drugs.
Your doctor advises you to stop taking the medication since you feel better.
When your medications are expired.
Here’s what you should do:
Always keep the medicines out of reach of children.
Discard the medicines once expired.
Even if you take any OTC drug, make sure to check its expiry date.
Don’t pile up medicines.
How to safely dispose off medicines that are not in use or expired?
Bringing your medications to drug take-back programs is the best way to get rid of them.
If there isn't a take-back program near you, you can dispose off your medications in the household trash safely by taking the following steps:-
Remove the medication from its packaging and combine it with other unpleasant trash, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds. Avoid crushing capsules or pills.
Put the medication in leak-proof containers or a sealable plastic bag before throwing it away.
Take out the medication from its packaging to prevent its misuse.
Obscure or remove any personal information if mentioned in the packaging.
You can flush certain medications according to the FDA's flush list.