If you had been prescribed cancer medication which you no longer need, you may not be sure what to do with it. You can’t simply throw it away, that’s illegal and potentially dangerous to others, animals, and even the environment.
Chances are that your cancer treatment includes some cancer medication as well as some pain relief drugs, typically opioids. So, what do you do with them once your treatment is done? Well, here are some suggestions how to do it safely and responsibly.
Drug Take-Back Programs
There are a lot of prescription drugs in the USA today. In fact, some experts claim that we are in a kind of an opioid epidemic given how much anti-pain medication is given out. And that’s just pain medication, not accounting for other types of drugs, including cancer medication.
However, not all of those drugs are consumed by the people, some are left behind after the therapy is over. That’s why there are government-backed programs to collect that unused medication and dispose of them properly. DEA has these programs twice a year and there are numerous pickup sites all over the country. If you are interested in these programs, make sure to consult your doctor or your local police to learn when and where they will take place.
This take-back program applies to all prescription meds, so even if you don’t have any cancer-related medication, you can still take the opportunity and get rid of any expired or unnecessary medication you may have lying around.
How to Get Rid of Pain Meds
Even if you are given pain medication by your cancer care group, they cannot legally take it back. That means that if you do not take those meds, or you don’t finish the whole amount you were given, you cannot return it to them to redistribute it to other cancer patients.
However, you can proceed to your local law enforcement agency, because they typically have some kind of a drop-off point for opioid drugs. Another possible option is to take them to a local pharmacy. Some of these institutions are legally permitted to collect and forward the medication to the DEA for proper disposal.
It is possible that the drugs you were given are flushable, meaning that they will dissolve in water and leave no significant damage, but your local government may not permit that. If you plan on disposing of the surplus meds in this way, make sure that your local government is OK with that.
How to Get Rid of Chemotherapy Medication
Unlike some pain meds, chemotherapy medication should never be flushed or just thrown away in the trash. The chemicals used in these drugs are really potent and may cause harm to the environment.
However, when it comes to chemotherapy medication, it is very unlikely that you will even have surplus meds in the first place. Doctors are careful to dose these drugs very precisely, due to their potency which means that you are most likely to have the exact amount of chemotherapy drugs. Still, if it does happen that you have a bit of left over chemo drugs, make sure that you take them back to your doctor.
Not only the chemo drugs themselves are potentially harmful, but the packaging they were kept in as well. That’s why it is important that you ask your caregivers or your doctor what to do with all the containers.
More likely than not, you will be told some or all of this information by your doctor or a pharmacist, but just in case, make sure that you follow their instructions to the letter.