How to dispose of medication in Canada

How to dispose of medication in Canada

Disposing of medications, both prescription and over the counter, is an important health care issue for Canadians. Y

Disposing of medications, both prescription and over the counter, is an important health care issue for Canadians. You may wonder why you should dispose of your expired medications instead of just throwing them into the garbage. Expired medication can be harmful because it may not work as expected or its effects may have changed with time, temperature, or exposure to light. It might even be harmful if taken while it is still within the expiry date.

dispose of expired medicines

 

What are some options for medication disposal? 

  •  Take your medications to a nearby pharmacy and ask them to dispose of it for you (this is usually free but call to make sure). This way you can make sure that your old medicines will not harm anyone or the environment.
  • Inquire about local take-back programs. Some local police stations and other town resources occasionally offer days that you can bring in your expired medications and they will safely dispose of them for you. 
  • DO NOT dispose of your medications down the toilet or in the garbage can.

You may wonder why it's important to dispose of your expired medications instead of just taking them, as their effects on people may change with time, temperature, or exposure to light.

Therefore you should ask the pharmacist if the medicine still works as expected or if their effects have changed after the expiry date or if it is harmful when taken while they are still within the expiry date.

Why should you clean out your medication clutter? 

Since expired medications are just creating clutter in your home, you should get rid of them. It is recommended to regularly check with your doctor if you need to take any of these medicines while some can cause harm or negative effects like, for example, antihistamines which may make you drowsy while driving.

By disposing of expired medicines it will also help protect the environment because drugs thrown away in household waste could contaminate water bodies and landfills.

If you have too much medication that starts to pile up, you should store the extra pills in another location and mark them clearly so they don't get confused with your daily medications.

bunch of unused medicines

Why you should dispose of your medications properly

1. Unintentional poisonings: For the most part, taking expired medications is not dangerous but there are a few drugs that can cause adverse effects if taken after their expiration date. 

2. People who may come into contact with your medications: It is especially important to dispose of your medications properly if there are others in your household. There might be children who will get access to them and ingest them or pets if they think they are treats or other food.

3. The environment: Expired medication which is thrown away improperly,  like in household waste, can contaminate our water bodies and cause environmental problems.

an old man checking the expiry of the medicine

Expired medication disposal

If you don't know how to properly dispose of your expired medications, talk with the pharmacist to see how you can get rid of the expired medication. Most pharmacies offer this service and they will give you information on where to take them if it's not free.

Some police departments or other municipal offices offer take-back programs to return your expired medication and they will properly dispose of it. 

Unused medication disposal

It is important to know where you should be disposing of these drugs. For example, throwing them away with household waste or recycling can contaminate our environment and getting rid of them through a pharmacy that offers this service would be a better idea.

If you have too much medication that starts to pile up, store the extra pills in another location and mark them clearly so they don't get confused with your daily medications.

Remember not to mix old and new pills as it could lead to a potential reaction or even a medical emergency.  

unused medicines in the bin

If you have any questions on which medications can affect your health, talk with your pharmacist or physician and they will be able to help you out. Make sure not to mix old and new medicines as it could lead to an overdose or mixing different kinds of medicine together which could be very harmful. Lastly, dispose of unwanted or expired medication by taking them back to the pharmacy, where they can properly dispose of them through their hazardous waste drop off program. Be careful while storing or throwing out unused medication as pets or children may get into them thinking that they are treats! If this happens please contact Poison Control for immediate treatment advice.

Conclusion:

It's important that you know how to dispose of expired medication properly because leaving them in your house can be unsafe especially if there are children or pets around. You should store the extra pills in a secure place and mark them clearly so they don't get confused with your daily medications. Also, talk with your pharmacist about how you can properly dispose of your medication as some pharmacies offer this service and they will give you information on where to take them if it's not free. Lastly, never mix old and new medicines together as it could lead to an overdose or mixing different kinds of medicine together which could be very harmful. If you have any questions on which medications can affect your health, always talk with a pharmacist or physician and they will be able to help you out.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as medical or other professional advice. A healthcare provider should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgement of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Mednow or its affiliates.

Get Started

We recommend

Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Advil shortages: Mednow can help

Children's pain and fever relief medication is available from Mednow

Medication reminders on iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch

How to set up medication reminders on iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.

PillSmart makes organizing medication easy

What is PillSmart? It’s easy to use, hard to forget daily dose medication organizer available at no extra cost to Mednow customers.