How To Dispose Of Medications You No Longer Take Or Use

Question: How do I get rid of the medications I no longer take?

Answer: Usually medications and how to obtain them and costs are discussed, but this is the other side of the medication discussion. Do not flush your unused medications down the toilet. Those medications are toxic to our water table and the surrounding environment.

The unused may be medication we no longer take, medication that has expired, medications not needed due to a death or moving into a nursing home as the facilities can’t accept the medications we have already purchased. There are all types of reasons these medications are around.

There are a number of states across the country that allow you to donate your medications back into an appropriate agency and then it is given to someone who can’t afford their medications. New York state does not have a system set up to donate your medications back to an organization that allows the meds to be redistributed to someone else.

There are a number of dropoff locations in the area that have unused medication receptacles that you can bring your medications. The U.S. Department of Justice, and Drug Enforcement Agency have a web tool that allows one to put in a ZIP code and find local controlled substance disposal locations. This is to be used for all medications, but is designed for meds considered controlled substances, like pain medication, and narcotics. Jamestown Police Department, and many pharmacies have drop box-type services that allow one to drop off unused medications.

There may be another alternatives such as a not for profit founded at Stanford University and a Y Combinator Alumni, called SIRUM. SIRUM allows one to donate and repurpose ones unused medications through a specific approved process. This process permits you to FedEx unused medication to SIRUM to redistribute to people in need. The medication must meet the following criteria: cannot be a controlled substance; will not expire for at least 3 months; is in sealed packaging; and does not require refrigeration. There is a 10$ shipping charge. Questions can be directed to 650-488-7434 or hello@sirum.org. More information is available at www.sirum.org.

When trying a new medication, maybe get a 7-day or 14-day supply to see if there are any adverse reactions. Next, fill a 30-day supply, then switch to 90-day supply. This slower purchasing of medication could save you money and prevent unused medication from being in your home.

Automatic refills may produce many excess medications being put into our system. If you get the call, or forget to cancel the refill, you get sent medications you don’t need. Once filled and mailed these medications cannot be returned. This is a significant waste of perfectly good medications and money. An insurance company and you are paying for this unused medication.

For many of us the convenience of not paying attention to how many pills are left in the bottle is worth knowing we have medication ahead. We must also consider that we never know what is going to happen to any of us. If we are calling to order our medication when the bottle is looking empty, we could be saving ourselves and our healthcare system significant money.

Senior Life Matters is a community based program sponsored by Lutheran Jamestown. For questions and concerns or to reach Janell Sluga, GCMC, call 720-9797 or e-mail SLM@lutheran-jamestown.org.


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