By: Steve Bond, BScPhm, RPh, CDE

May is a time for spring cleaning, spring flowers and of course Mother’s Day. So why not bring your mom some flowers and while you’re there, clean out her medicine cabinet? May 21st is designated as the National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day. This initiative is supported by the government of Canada, national policing associations, pharmacists, physicians and a host of other organizations.

National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day provides an opportunity for Canadians to drop off their unused and expired prescription medication to ensure safe disposal. Medication that goes down the drain can have a negative effect on our lakes and rivers, while medication in household garbage is not only accessible to children and pets, but can also contaminate the soil and water sources.  We do not know what impact that this medication pollution will cause to our environment, but already we are able to measure levels of some medications in the great lakes.

This initiative also aims to reduce the volume of prescription drugs available for misuse and inform the public of the harms associated with prescription drug abuse.  The abuse of prescription drugs is as common and as harmful as any illicit or illegal drugs.  By returning medications for proper disposal, we reduce the chance of them being abused or misused.  Another reason to return unused and expired medications is to reduce harm caused by medications which may be less effective or interact with current therapies.  While the antibiotic your doctor prescribed for you 2 years ago was appropriate then, it may interfere with the new blood pressure medication that was prescribed last month. (This could be even worse if you`re 43 and still have the acne medication prescribed when you were 15)

It is important to know that prescription drugs can be returned to local pharmacies for disposal any day of the year.  All pharmacies will accept them and there is no charge to you for the disposal.    You should keep them in their original containers where possible.  Used needles and other sharps can also be returned- just ask the pharmacist for approved container for their return. Look in this edition of the weekly news for a medication return bag with instructions of what and how to return medications (if you haven’t cleaned out your medicine cabinet in a while, you may need a bigger bag- we will accept those as well.) Take care of yourselves and each other.