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Don't Just Flush Leftover Meds

Unused medications create a dilemma—what to do with the things?

They obviously shouldn't be left lying around accessible to bored teenagers or curious kids. Nor should they be flushed; medication traces are already showing up in the water supply. But just dumped in the trash? Maybe they should be taken back to a pharmacy.

The National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents independent community pharmacists, and Sharps Compliance, a medical waste management company, is offering a disposal method that may provide more peace of mind than the traditional "toss 'em in the rubbish bin and hope for the best" approach.

Go to for a list of pharmacies that will dispose of those meds for you. There are 800 participating pharmacies in 40 states, but it's a big country. Even in large metro areas, you might have to search beyond a 5-mile radius to find one.

For people who can't find a pharmacy or would have to travel too far, the site offers a link to the Office of National Drug Control Policy's guidelines on medication disposal.

That, in a way, seems to bring consumers back to where many started, at a bit of a loss. Among the tips are to take unused drugs to a collection program, of which there seem to be precious few.

But the guidelines do include useful advice as well—such as, if you must trash the pills, mix them with kitty litter first.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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