Unused medications can come from a variety of sources in veterinary medicine. There may be medication left over after the expiration date. The treatment plan may have changed, leaving the client with a medication that should no longer be used. The patient may have passed away.
Regardless of the reason for the additional or leftover medication, you should advise your client how to properly dispose of it. Unused medications, if kept around, can lead to injury, misuse, and other serious events, especially in households with pets and/or children, both of whom tend to explore and get into things they are not supposed to.
Listed here are two helpful online resources for clients. If neither of these resources offers a solution, you can instruct the client to mix the leftover drug with something like coffee grounds or cat litter, put the mixture into a sealable container, and throw it away into the trash.
Be sure to remind clients to remove any identifying information from the original container.
- A tool from the Department of Justice for finding disposal sites for controlled substances: https://apps.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubdispsearch/spring/main?execution=e1s1
- A list from the FDA of drugs that can be flushed down the toilet: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-fdas-flush-list-certain-medicines
David Hodge is a UIC pharmacy student who will graduate will his PharmD in May 2023.