Home Gesundheit Hören Sie auf, den Medikamentenschrank zu benutzen. Oh, und jetzt räum es aus

Hören Sie auf, den Medikamentenschrank zu benutzen. Oh, und jetzt räum es aus

von NFI Redaktion

On January 24, 2024 – If old bottles of prescription medication and over-the-counter pain relievers are gathering dust behind your bathroom mirror, you are not alone. However, it is important to take stock of what medications you have, what you can get rid of, and how to carefully store and dispose of your pills.

Let’s start with the basics: despite the name, you shouldn’t store your pills in the bathroom medicine cabinet. There are two main reasons for this, according to experts.

First, medication cabinets are usually located in bathrooms, where there is a lot of humidity and high temperatures. According to the CDC, it has been shown that storing medications in places where temperature fluctuations are frequent and humidity is high leads to faster degradation of medications.

The second reason to consider not storing your pills in the bathroom is that anyone you share your home with can easily access your medicine cabinet. If you want to prevent medications from getting into the hands of young children, people struggling with drug problems, or teenagers with mental health issues, even a kitchen cabinet may not be the best place to store pills. And studies show that most household medications are not stored properly.

When Suzanne Robotti was a child, her younger sister loved to climb. One day, she went into the kitchen and saw her then five-year-old sister climbing onto the counter and finding the baby aspirin. Robotti, founder of the MedShadow Foundation, an organization for drug safety, and consumer representative on the FDA’s Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee, chatted, and her mother rushed her sister to the hospital.

„They had to pump her stomach because she had actually ingested a whole bottle of baby aspirin, which could have seriously damaged her kidneys and liver,“ she said. „It sounds crazy, but there are people who keep their medications under lock and key, just as you would with a gun. They are just as dangerous as a weapon in the wrong hands.“

When do medications actually expire?

Most pill bottles have a minimum shelf life of about a year from receipt. This is not the case everywhere, especially with all prescription medications.

“It’s a bit like the milk you get; It’s probably still good shortly after the expiration date has passed,” said Dr. Maryann Amirshahi, a toxicologist, emergency physician, and co-director of the National Capital Poison Center. „The day it expires is not magical. However, you don’t want to leave it sitting there much longer,“ she said.

Whether the drug has passed its prime at the time indicated on the packaging or not depends heavily on how it was stored. It also depends on the situation you are in, said Joe Graedon, a pharmacist and co-host of the nationwide call-in radio show „The People’s Pharmacy.“

„If you are in a situation that is not so critical – perhaps you need a sleeping aid or an allergy medication – and you have a medication that has expired a week, a month, or even a few months, then it is ‚likely it hasn’t gone bad,'“ he said.

But if you are in a situation where the medication is absolutely necessary— for example, if you have an infection and need an antibiotic, or someone needs an EpiPen— then you should not take the risk.

Amirshahi frequently sees a scenario at work, both at the poison control center and in the emergency room. Patients say they had an antibiotic lying around the house from a previous infection and decided to take it for their current ailment.

For many medications, merely tossing the bottle in the trash is not the best course of action. The best way to dispose of old prescriptions is to use the nationwide take-back programs provided. The FDA has a resource that helps you find local take-back locations registered by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Many pharmacies also take back and safely dispose of old medications.

If that doesn’t work for you, Amirshahi has another solution.

„With most medications, you can actually put them in kitty litter or coffee grounds before throwing them away—something gross—so that people aren’t tempted to ingest them,“ she said. „You want to make them completely unpalatable.“

Whatever you do, don’t flush medications down the toilet. Studies have shown that this leads to increased concentration of medications in the water supply and harms aquatic life.

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