5. Asthma Inhalers
In the emergency situation of an asthma attack, it is probably better to use an expired asthma inhaler than nothing at all. However, you will want to ensure that you are able to get the most benefit from your asthma medication in an emergency situation. Therefore, be sure to keep an eye on the expiration dates and replace inhalers and other medications in advance of those dates. Inhalers that are past their expiration dates may not be as effective, and when it comes to breathing, you will want to make sure you are using a product that is at maximum potency.
4. Auto-Injection Epinephrine
The epinephrine pens and injectors used to treat the anaphylaxis of an allergic reaction come with expiration dates as well. This is another instance in which it is better to use an expired medication than to use nothing at all. However, when dealing with the life-threatening situation of an allergic reaction, it is best to use medications at their full potency. Periodically check your epinephrine injector and replace those that are about to expire.Related: 10 Medications That You Shouldn’t Suddenly Stop Taking
3. Proper Disposal of Unused Medications
To make sure you are using medications that are fully potent and safe for use, check your medication supply about every six months. Then, discard expired medications, those that may have become contaminated, or medications that you are unlikely to use. Never flush medications down the toilet or down the drain, as this risks environmental contamination. If you are unable to locate a collection site in your area, the FDA recommends mixing the medications with dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds. Next, seal this mixture in a plastic bag before throwing it in the household trash. Collect used insulin needles in sealed plastic jugs to avoid accidental needle sticks.
2. National Prescription Take Back Day
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) maintains a database of controlled substance disposal locations. Additionally, each year the DEA promotes a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to provide safe and convenient venues for the public to dispose of unwanted medications. These Take Back Days usually occur in April and October of each year.
1. Ask Your Pharmacist
When faced with the dilemma of whether or not to use an old or expired medication, feel free to give your pharmacist a call. Your pharmacist can educate you on the safety and efficacy of medications that you have on hand. In addition, your pharmacist can provide you with information on proper storage and getting the most benefit from the medications you need and rely on.Related: 15 Medications You Should Never Combine with Alcohol