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Coffee Grounds & Unwanted Medicines

5:13 PM, Jul 18, 2013   |    comments
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High Point, NC -- Medicine drop boxes, like the one at the High Point Police Department, aren't always convenient for you to get to when you need to discard old medication. 

Guilford County Health Dept. Pharmacist Mary Elizabeth Batten says coffee grounds could be your answer.    

If there are no instructions given on the drug label, you can throw the medications in your household trash but first follow these simple steps:

  • Take them out of their original containers, crush them, and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter.  This will make the medication less appealing to kids and pets and unrecognizable to people who may be going thru your trash intentionally.
  • Next put them in a sealable bag (like a zip lock bag) or an empty can to prevent the medications from leaking or breaking out of the garbage bag before throwing them in the trash.

"There are instances where it is recommended that certain medications be flushed down the toilet. These instructions typically apply to powerful narcotic pain relievers and other controlled substances." The rationale for this is these medications pose severe safety risks to babies, children, pets and even adults if they come in contact with or ingest these medications inadvertently.

The FDA has a list of these medications listed on their web site and continuously revises the list.

"While some people are concerned about the environmental impact of flushing these medications down the toilet,  the main way that drug residues enter our water systems is simply by people taking medications and then naturally passing them through their bodies." 

The bottom line for Mary Elizabeth, "Get rid of unused and unneeded medicines." When you  leave it in your cabinet for years and years and years you can often forget exactly why the medication was prescribed and you could be taking the medication for the wrong reason.

This also prevents other people from taking something that could hurt them.

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