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Sharp Health News

Is there an epidemic in your medicine cabinet?

April 13, 2016

Is there an epidemic in your medicine cabinet?

We all have them: a medicine cabinet stuffed with half-empty bottles of pills, or bathroom drawers crammed with long-forgotten, expired cold remedies or worse, leftover painkillers.

Although most of us don't give these out-of-date medications a second thought, they can be an attractive nuisance leading to accidental exposure or intentional misuse. Recent reports on the addictive properties of opioids are shining a bright light on safe medication use, storage and disposal.

Sharp Rees-Stealy pharmacist Hector Morales advises patients to remove medications from the house as soon as they are no longer needed. "Once you have finished with a medication, it is a good idea to get it out of the house quickly, especially if there are children in the home. Remember, while safety tops are good, child-proof doesn't mean fool-proof."

Morales recommends two ways to safely dispose of medications: drop them off at one of the many collection sites around the county offered by law enforcement departments or participate in a government-sponsored take-back program.

Some medications can be very harmful if used by someone other than the person for whom they were prescribed. These include opioids such as fentanyl, methadone and oxycodone. The best and safest option for these drugs is to use a drug take-back program.

Morales knows most patients focus on how to take their medications. Sometimes, the proper storage and disposal of medicine doesn't get the attention it deserves. That's why he is always happy to answer questions.

"I encourage my patients to ask me as many questions as they have about not only how to take the medicines prescribed by their doctors, but also what to do when they have finished their treatment. These are chemicals that can be very harmful if not used or disposed of properly," he says.

For the media: For more information on proper drug disposal, contact Senior Public Relations Specialist Erica Carlson at erica.carlson@sharp.com or 858-499-3052.

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