Project #1 this weekend: Medicine cabinet inventory

Veterans! It’s time to prevent pill misuse and theft by ridding your homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion and misuse. Rates of prescription drug misuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.

Survey data show that the majority of people who misuse prescription drugs get them from family and friends, often from a home medicine cabinet.

Some methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing pills down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Prevent prescription drug misuse, accidental poisonings and overdoses

If you remove these medications from your home, you reduce the chance of taking them by accident and poisoning, especially for young people. Removing them also reduces the risk of taking the wrong drug by mistake.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, on Saturday, Oct. 22, provides a safe, convenient, and responsible way of disposing of unneeded prescription drugs at more than 5,000 collection sites nationwide.  Find local Take-Back Day sites here.

Veteran speaking with pharmacist about turning in old pills

Photo courtesy of Jesse Brown VA Medical Center

VA can also help you safely dispose of expired or unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. VA has envelopes that you can use to mail your unwanted medications for disposal that is safe for the environment. These envelopes are free and do not require postage. Your VA may also have a receptacle where you can deposit your unwanted medications. Check with your VA Pharmacist on which option is available at your VA facility.

Mail back packages are available to Veterans at every medical facility and VA has on-site receptacles in over 90 locations. For Veterans unable to come into a VA facility, a mail back package can be sent to their home.

VA is a leader in providing safe and responsible medication disposal options for patients.

Veterans have returned over 24 tons of unneeded and unwanted medication since implementation of the DEA Disposal rule in 2014. All medications are destroyed by a DEA registered vendor in an environmentally responsible manner keeping medications out of waterways and landfills.

VA remains committed to safe disposal and every VA medical facility (including community clinics) is required to have at least one secure option for patient disposal of controlled substances medications.

About the author: Jeanne Tuttle R.Ph. is the National Pharmacist Program Manager

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Published on Oct. 20, 2016

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