Don’t take expired medications, pharmacist warns

Health

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — As we head into cold and flu season, it’s a good idea to check your medicine cabinet for medications that may be out of date.

Nancy Tortolani, a registered pharmacist and outreach coordinator for URI’s College of Pharmacy, said people may take expired medication because they may be trying to save some money or because they don’t know it’s gone bad. But no matter the reason, she warned not to do it.

“Sometimes medications become less effective when they’re out of date,” Tortolani said.

Not only that, but according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some medications could become dangerous after they expire because the chemical structure can change. That’s why the FDA began requiring an expiration date on both prescription and over-the-counter drugs in 1979.

“It’s all based through the clinical trials of when the medications were developed,” Tortolani explained.

If you’re having trouble paying for your medication, Tortolani recommended talking to your doctor.

“Maybe there’s a way that you can get into a program to better afford your medications, or there’s another option that may be less expensive,” she suggested.

To prevent having expired medications on hand, Tortolani said to go through your medicine cabinet at least once a year.

She also said it’s best to pull out medications you no longer use, or those left behind by a family member who’s died, adding that there are ways to safely dispose of them.

“Some pharmacies have take-back kiosks where you can bring your medications — both over-the-counter and prescription — and have them disposed of properly,” she said.

Many police departments have drug disposal sites, including Rhode Island State Police:

  • State Police Headquarters: 311 Danielson Pike, North Scituate
  • Lincoln Wood Barracks: 1575 Louisquisset Pike, Lincoln
  • Wickford Barracks: 7875 Post Road, North Kingstown
  • Hope Valley Barracks: 54 Nooseneck Hill Road, Richmond

List: Permanent drug disposal sites in Rhode Island »

Another option is drug take-back events, such as those held on Oct. 23, which is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

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