(NewsUSA) - We all do it: we let over-the-counter (OTC) medicines like pain relievers for a headache, allergy medicine or cough and cold products pileup in our bathrooms. Especially over the past few years, you may have let medications linger in the house past their expiration dates. But old and unneeded medication should be disposed of safely, and springtime is the perfect time to get it done.
Proper medicine disposal keeps our homes and communities safe and our environment clean, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the national trade association representing manufacturers of OTC medicines.
"Medication safety is everyone's responsibility, and proper medication disposal is an important part of medication safety," says Anita Brikman, Executive Director of the CHPA Educational Foundation, which is a 501c3 organization focused on promoting the safe use, storage and disposal of OTC medicines and dietary supplements to consumers. "How you dispose of unwanted, unused, or expired OTC medicines is important and easy," she says.
So clean out your medicine cabinet this spring, and choose one of these three quick and easy disposal methods:
- In-Home Disposal. Many OTC medications, and some prescription medications, can be thrown out with your regular trash at home. Mix the medicine (do not crush any tablets or capsules) with some especially unappealing trash, such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds, and place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag. Then put the bag in your usual household trash bin, and you're done.
- In-Store Disposal. Many pharmacies provide designated kiosks where you can bring any medication, OTC or prescription, for safe disposal. The website MyOldMeds.com has a zip code locator tool to find more than 22,000 verified sites nationwide that offer free medicine-disposal options all year long.
- Take-Back Events. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducts national Drug Take-Back Day events, and the next one will occur this year on April 30.
These events, which are set up temporarily at convenient community- based locations throughout the country, serve as an opportunity to return medications safely as a friendly public-service reminder to clean out your medicine cabinet.