Six Reasons to Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

-Kristi Fritch, Pharmacy Intern; Emily Kohal, Family Nurse Practitioner; Mel Kirby, Registered Nurse

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

October 26, 2019 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Hosted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, it’s a day to promote best practices regarding medication and to give people a chance to return any medications they no longer need.

For the first time this year, they will also be accepting vaping devices and cartridges. Be sure to click the link above for more information.

Why should we return old medication anyway? If you’re like me, you have an entire bathroom drawer filled with old antibiotics, painkillers, and any other prescriptions you never finished taking. What’s the big deal about this? A few of our medical staff have the answer to this question!

Six Answers:
  1. There is a reason certain medications are prescribed vs. being over-the-counter.
    We are all familiar with certain medications like ibuprofen and Pepto-Bismol. These medications can be purchased anywhere—a drug store, the supermarket, a gas station—and we can make the choice whether to take them when symptoms arise. Not all medications work this way. Medications like antibiotics, narcotics, and other more powerful medications are only prescribed from health care professionals. This is an important distinction. Taking these medications without the proper counseling from your prescriber or pharmacist can be dangerous.
  2. Side Effects, Drug Interactions, Drug Allergies
    Prescription medications often have complex drug interactions and side effects. If someone gives you a pill that they were prescribed for migraine headaches, there’s a possibility that it can interact with a medication you already take. A health care professional can advise you about these reactions, but only if they know what medications you are taking. Drug allergies are like any other allergies – you don’t know you’re allergic until you have a reaction. These reactions can be life-threatening. A prescriber or pharmacist can warn you about these in advance, but often times, just reading the pill bottle is not enough.
  3. Unintentional spreading of opioid crisis/supporting those in active addiction
    A major way that people living in active addiction get access to pills is from medicine cabinets. If you have leftover opioids from a surgery, someone close to you may take them while using the bathroom at your house. We can stop the unintentional spread of the opioid crisis by giving back our medication when we are finished with it.
  4. Drugs lose efficacy over time.
    You may have heard the rumor that drug expiration dates aren’t “real.” Will you die from taking an old antibiotic? Probably not. However, drugs do lose their efficacy over time. This means that even if you take an expired pill for the right reason, it might not work as well as it did when it was first prescribed.
  5. Prescription medications are meant to be taken as prescribed.
    When we keep medication past its expiration, it often means we aren’t using the medication as prescribed. This is especially true of antibiotics. These are supposed to be taken in their entirety. When they aren’t, there’s a chance that the bacteria hasn’t been fully killed, and you can stay sick. Realistically, we wouldn’t have any leftover antibiotics. However, if we do, we aren’t taking them as prescribed when we decide we want to take them the next time we aren’t feeling well.
  6. Medication Safety
    It’s no secret that kids can get into anything. This include pill bottles. Keeping medication that’s unnecessary can be a hazard for children in the house.
What can you do?
  1. Return your medications. Click HERE to find a drop off location near you.
  2. Talk to your local pharmacist. They are the least utilized and most available providers in the health care field. You don’t need an appointment. Just go to your local pharmacy and ask for them. They want to help!

picture from patch.com

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