Seniors’ Column

This week's column deals with the proper way to dispose of old or unneeded medicine.

You can return your unnecessary medicines to your local pharmacist at any time.

The Medications Return Program is a product stewardship initiative funded by the pharmaceutical and self-care health products industries. Its purpose is to encourage members of the general public to choose to dispose of expired and unused medicines in a safe and effective way.

We are asked to collect all the unused medicines that have been stored away and have exceeded their expiry dates. This includes any medicines which are unused or expired prescription medicines, even those that are not currently used, as well as those in questionable condition. Add to your list, bottles or containers which have incomplete or missing labels and those where the use is uncertain or are missing labels.

All prescription drugs, herbal products, nonprescription medicine, vitamin and mineral supplements and throat lozenges will be accepted. Not accepted will be needles, sharps or syringes. Also, cosmetics, antiperspirants, antiseptic and medicated skin care products.

Not acceptable will be hard surface and toilet disinfectant cleaners, sunburn protectants, contact lens and disinfectants, mouthwashes and toothpastes.

Pharmaceuticals that come from physicians’ offices or hospitals will also not be accepted.

On the accepted list will be all prescription drugs, non-prescription medicines, herbal products, vitamin and mineral supplements and throat lozenges.

We are directed to return these medicines to pharmacies participating in the Medications Return Program. Just check with your pharmacist if you are not certain.

Safe disposal of medications is quite important, as it keeps drugs out of the hands of children or other persons who might use them inappropriately. It also keeps drug products out of landfill sites and water supplies, and prevents the inadvertent use of expired medicines. Never simply throw away unused medicines, even if it is in a child proof container. Children or pets may find the medicines and could get sick. Neither should they be flushed down the toilet.

The pharmacy through which you dispose of these products does not have to be the one where the medicine was originally purchased.

Additional information may be obtained at


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