April 15 is National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day

National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day occurs on the third Friday of April each year. This national holiday signifies the importance of the proper maintenance and disposal of medication and the risks that medications can pose in our homes if not dealt with properly.

According to Craig Clippard, RPh, Lead Pharmacist at the Healing Arts & Specialty Pharmacy at Saint Francis Medical Center, expired medications can pose a threat to individuals and members of their households in various ways. “Keeping expired prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs in homes can lead to someone potentially taking less effective medications or endangering themselves by taking a medication that is no longer needed. To that extent, duplications of medicines or untracked bottles could get into the wrong hands resulting in unintentional misuse or abuse.”

Because of the threats that could result from a full medicine cabinet, it is important to track all medications, prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and the expiration dates that go along with them. Clippard explains, “Like foods in the fridge, all medicines have an expiration date. All medicine bottles should be discarded by their listed expiration dates to ensure effective potency and avoid danger.”

A good rule of thumb to follow regarding medication discard dates, according to Clippard, includes “discarding a prescription bottle after one year from the fill date and discarding an over-the-counter medication on the date listed on the container or bottle, with a medicine cabinet cleanout every six months.”

To safely and efficiently dispose of drugs after a medicine cabinet cleanout, Clippard recommends the following five-step process.

  1. Place all medications in a sealable bag. If there are solid medications, add some water to dissolve.
  2. Add kitty litter, coffee grounds, sawdust or any material that mixes well and makes the medications unappealing for children or animals to eat.
  3. Seal the bag and place it in the trash.
  4. Remove any identifying information on prescription bottles, clean the bottles and recycle.
  5. If you have a large bag of medicine at one time, another option is to call the local police station. Most police stations keep a locked deposit and accept dated medicine bottles.

For more information about safely cleaning out medicine cabinets and proper medicine disposal, call the Saint Francis Healing Arts Pharmacy at 573-339-0999.