By: Julie Lac, Pharmacy Intern
With medication, it’s not just about how you take them. How you store and dispose of medications is also crucial. Improper medication storage and disposal can have significant consequences. Let’s review the basics!
All medications have a recommended temperature range to ensure stability and efficacy. Medications you keep at “room temperature” are usually most stable between 15°C–25°C. Medications that require refrigeration are happiest between 2°C–8°C. One important example that many people may not think about is that if you keep a rescue inhaler, epinephrine injector, or any other medication in your car for emergencies, they may not actually come to the rescue when you need them to. This is because the temperature in your car fluctuates year-round!
Something else to consider is the humidity of where you store your medications. Most medications are designed to dissolve, so storing them in the most humid room in your house, like your bathroom, is not ideal. Each time you open a bottle, you may allow humidity to degrade your meds. Humidity may also cause testing kits or testing strips to produce false readings. Try a shelf or closet storage box, dresser drawer, or kitchen cabinet. Just don’t forget to keep them inaccessible to any children or pets!
If you have expired or unused medication at home, consider disposing them – but not in the trash! Landfills are favourite foraging spots for wild and domestic animals, and your thrown-away meds can have devastating consequences.
Flushing them is no better as it contaminates our lakes, rivers, and streams, causing irreparable harm to our marine ecosystem. In 2021, Canadian researchers reported pharmaceuticals in their water samples, and Health Canada reported increasing pharmaceutical contaminants in groundwater, drinking water, and food sources!
The best option? Take all unwanted medications to any pharmacy in Canada for safe disposal.
Safe storage and disposal of medications is a critical responsibility. When in doubt, review the included literature or book a medication review with your Yurek pharmacist.