Drugs: What You Should Know About Your Drugs

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

How should the drug be stored?

Most medications are stored at room temperature. However, some medications require special storage conditions in order to avoid premature deterioration of the drug. Look at the expiration dates written on the container and use the drug before the expiration date.

How should unused drugs be disposed of?

To safe guard the health of children, pets, and the environment; and to reduce drug abuse; drugs should be disposed of responsibly.

The FDA recommends the following for safe disposal of unused or expired medications:

  • Follow specific recommendations for disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information packet provided with the medication.
  • Do not flush drugs down the sink or toilet unless the packet information on the drug specifically instructs to do so.
  • Check to see if your community has a drug take-back program that allows the public to bring unused drugs to a specific location for disposal.
  • If you do not have access to a disposal program in your area to dispose of unused drugs it is recommended you throw the drugs in the garbage after taking the following steps:
    • Remove the drugs from their original container and mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter (this makes the drugs less appealing to pets, children, and people who intentionally dig through trash seeking drugs).
    • Place the mixture in a sealable container, can, or bag to prevent leakage.

Additional tips include:

  • Remove all identifying information on the prescription labels so they are unreadable. This helps protect your identify and personal health information.
  • Do not give prescription medications to friends or family members. A medication that is effective for you, may be dangerous for someone else.
  • Ask your health-care professional or pharmacist if you have any questions about proper disposal of unused or expired medicaitons.
  • Disposal of prescription drug disposal methods can be applied to over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
  • Inquire about any special instructions for disposing the unused or expired medications you have taken.

Quick GuidePrescription Drug Abuse: Know The Warning Signs

Prescription Drug Abuse: Know The Warning Signs
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Need help identifying pills and medications?

Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.

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