Use, store and dispose of medications safety
Using over the counter medications to treat minor illnesses and symptoms is effective, but care must be taken to ensure the medication is taken, stored and disposed of properly.
According to Health Canada, both prescription and non-prescription drugs can cause side effects or allergic reactions. Both types of drugs can also have serious effects if combined with other types of medications or certain types of foods, beverages or vitamins. Because of this, Health Canada recommends that medication use should always be directed by either a doctor or pharmacist. Those directions should include when to take the medication, how often to take it and for how long. You should also know under what conditions to stop taking the medication and what to do if you miss a dose.
If you have an adverse reaction to a medication, it should be reported to MedEffect Canada, by visiting www.healthcanada.gc.ca/medeffect or by phoning 1-866-234-2345. The information is used to monitor the safety and benefit-risk assessments of health products.
Storing medications properly is crucial as improper storage could cause the drugs to prematurely expire or get into the hands of the wrong person. Health Canada recommends always keeping medications in their original containers, even when travelling. It also warns not to combine different medications in the same bottle and to keep products in a cool, dry area out of direct sunlight. Medications should also be kept out of the reach of children.
Disposing of your expired medications is very important as it ensures they don’t end up in the wrong hands and don’t damage the environment. Health Canada recommends cleaning out your medicine cabinet once a year and properly disposing of all expired products. This prevents anyone from inadvertently taking expired drugs, which may no longer be effective and could lead to dangerous interactions with other meds.
Once you have collected all of your expired medications, the safest and easiest way to dispose of them is to bring them to your local pharmacy, who will ensure the drugs are disposed of properly. Health Canada warns residents not to ever flush medicines down the toilet or pour them down the sink. Some municipalities across the country will offer take-back programs where you can dispose of your expired health products as well.
If you are unable to take expired drugs to a pharmacy and must dispose of them in the garbage, there are certain steps to take to ensure it is done safely. First, remove the medications from their original containers and scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to protect the privacy of your health information. Next, hide the medication in something unappealing, such as used coffee grounds or cat litter. This will make the drug less attractive to children or pets and unrecognizable to people who go through trash looking for drugs. Finally, place the mixture in a closed bag, can or other sealed container to prevent it from leaking or breaking out of the garbage bag.
According to Health Canada, there has been a dramatic increase in new drugs in the Canadian marketplace and improper disposal of them could be a major threat to the environment over time, so proper disposal is essential.
This article, written by Alberta-based freelance writer Dave S. Clark was originally published by Postmedia Network