5 On Your Side

Dispose of old medications properly to reduce risk of accidental overdoses

Posted April 24

A new Consumer Reports survey found that 19 percent of people hadn't cleaned out their medicine cabinet in more than three years, turning their bathrooms into dumping grounds for old prescription drugs.

"Those leftover pills are far from harmless," said Ginger Skinner of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs. "Taking them incorrectly or accidentally could be deadly or land a child in the ER."

About 60,000 children end up in hospital emergency rooms every year after taking medicine that was within their reach.

Anything from leftover painkillers such as Percocet or Vicodin to sleep aids such as Ambien to Xanax and other anti-anxiety medications can cause problems, Skinner said. Over-the-counter medicines that look and taste like candy also pose a danger, she said.

Simply flushing the old prescription drugs down the toilet could affect the water supply, so one easy way to dispose of them properly is by using an Operation Medicine Drop dropbox.

People who decide to just throw out old or unused drugs are advised to remove any personal information from the bottle first and mix the drugs with something unappealing, such as coffee grounds or kitty litter, before sealing them in a plastic bag and tossing it in the garbage.

1 Comment

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Ronan Cates Apr 24, 8:10 p.m.
    user avatar

    What A horrible article. There are options to get rid of drugs. Give them