How to dispose of unused or expired medications

Cancer treatment and its side effects can bring a lot of medications. But what should you do with unused or expired medications? Whether they’re chemotherapy drugs (such as vismodegib), high-potency pain relievers (considered controlled substances), or drugs that target specific defects on cancer cells (vemurafenib), it’s important to know how to properly dispose of these medicines. “The dangers of having unused or expired medications lying around the house are well-documented,” says Lori Bertrand, retail pharmacy manager at MD Anderson. “Every day, parents head to the emergency room or contact poison control centers because their children have accidentally ingested medications intended for someone else.” Here’s what you should know about disposing of your unused or expired medications. How to find an authorized collection location The first step in disposing of unused prescriptions is to identify an authorized collection location in your area. You can find one using this search tool on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) website or by searching for “authorized takeback locations” online. The DEA also sponsors a National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day event twice a year, usually on Saturdays in April and October. During these events, you can drop off your unused and expired medications at police stations, fire stations and other local civic centers designated as official drop-off sites. Any type of unused or expired medication — including over-the-counter drugs such as cough syrup or antihistamines, and even veterinary medicines — can be dropped off on these days for proper disposal by law-enforcement personnel. Bringing prescriptions back to MD Anderson With the exception of controlled substances, such as codeine, oxycodone and tramadol, medications issued by...