OLD MEDICATIONS – How to Identify Old Pills & Decide What to Throw OutLeave a Comment
Old pills and other medications may be cluttering your medicine chest because you’re not sure what they are, if they are still safe to use, or how to dispose of them. Here’s how to determine what you have and what to dispose of.
THE SAFEST, EASIEST OPTION
- The safest, easiest option is to dispose of any medication that is past it’s expiration date. However, in many cases, experts do not advise simply throwing old medications in the trash. Please see our post, “The Best Way to Dispose of Old Medications” for details.
- Prescription medications should always have the expiration date printed on the pharmacy label.
- Over-the-counter medicine usually has an expiration date both on the outer box, and on the bottle or blister packs.
- If you can’t find an expiration date, or the medication has been removed from it’s packaging, you should throw the medication away unless you are certain you purchased it within the past year.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON CURRENT PILLS OUT OF THEIR PACKAGING
You may have medication you remember purchasing in the past year, that was removed from the bottle. It may have been packed for travel, or stored in a pill box, pill sorter or even a plastic bag. Since many medications are similar in size, shape and color, it’s important to verify what type of medication it is. Even if the pills are still in their original bottle, you may not have the package insert with additional information that originally came with it. This includes details on why the medication was prescribed, warnings of other medications or health conditions that could be a problem when taking the medication, possible side effects and other important information. Here are some tips and resources on how to research your medication to identify it if needed and how to find package insert information.
- For the information found on drug labels and package inserts, go to the FDA website: www.accessdata.fda.gov
- To confirm the identity of the pills, or to find out what kind of medication you have, even if you don’t know what they are and don’t have a name to search for, try the “Pill Identification Tool” on WebMD, or one of the other sites linked below. You can search based on the color, shape and/or the letters and numbers imprinted on the pill. These search tools will provide you with close-up, full color photos of the pills, so you can compare them to your medication.
- If you’re unable to locate critical information about the pills, call your Pharmacist.
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