Safely dispose of old medications


But there are ways to get rid of them safely, including a takeaway program you can find at Houston pharmacies. Or, if you are more of a do-it-yourself type, there are some easy ways to safely pitch those pills at home.

Have you been wondering what to do with your old, unused medications? It's a difficult dilemma.

Some people flush their old prescription medicines down the toilet, but that's not advised because that sends them to the water supply.

If you throw them in the trash, they end up in a landfill.

"Or, God forbid, into the hands of other teens younger than myself," shopper Brad Ginsburg said.

"I have a lot of these bottles at home and I was wondering what to do with them," shopper Antoinette Reed said.

"It's one of the most common questions we receive here in the pharmacy," Walgreens pharmacist Waylon Hecker said.

Now, there's the takeaway program.

"I like it, but the bag is not big enough," Reed said, laughing.

Reed decided to try the program. Ginsburg has used it several times.

"About three or four times, and I'll continue to do it just as long as I can safely dispose of my meds," he said.

In the takeaway program, you purchase a postage-paid envelope to mail old medications in for incineration. All prescriptions or over-the-counter meds except controlled substances are eligible.

Walgreens is one of several Houston pharmacies to carry this program. The cost is $3.99.

But there are also things you can safely do at home.

You can take old prescription drugs and expired over-the-counter medicines, put them in a baggie and dump coffee grounds in them. That will inactivate the medications.

The most effective at-home disposal method will probably be your least favorite: kitty litter. But it will work, especially well for liquid medicines.

The cat litter absorbs the meds and removes anyone's desire in scouring for your old medicine.

Officials say 21,000 pounds of old meds have already been incinerated, brought in by Walgreen's customers alone. As the program continues, those numbers are likely to multiply. As they do, the water supply, garbage dumps and even homes will be safer.

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