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VA Maryland Health Care System


Disposing Meds Properly

Medsafe receptacle

When drugs are not disposed of correctly, they can easily fall into the wrong hands.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
While medicines play a vital role in the treatment of many conditions, when they are no longer needed, flushing them down the toilet is not an acceptable way to dispose of them.  The VA has been making a concerted effort to assist Veterans and their families remove unwanted and expired medications from their homes, especially controlled substances. Veterans and family members, caregivers and consumers should remove expired, unwanted or unused medications from the home to avoid accidental ingestion or purposeful misuse. Now, the VA Maryland Health Care System can help Veterans properly dispose of these medications. With the help of Safemeds receptacles available at the Baltimore and Perry Point VA Medical Centers, Veterans can easily dispose of their unwanted medicines. Because U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations prohibits VA pharmacies from accepting returned controlled substances, Safemed destruction bins and pre-paid mail-in destruction envelopes are the approved means of disposing these unwanted or expired medications and are compliant with DEA regulations.

"When any substance, including a drug, is flushed down the toilet, it becomes part of the water supply. Regardless of what it is—birth control pills, antibiotics, controlled substances—it can leach into ground water if you have a septic tank," said Eugene DeLara, chief of Pharmacy Service at the VA Maryland Health Care System. "You don’t want to introduce controlled substances and other medicines into the environment."

Additionally, you should remove expired, unwanted or unused medications from your home where they can be inadvertently diverted, misused, or abused.

"When drugs are not disposed of correctly, they can easily fall into the wrong hands. It may be a teenager who steals them for his/her own use, a curious toddler who puts everything in their mouth, or a trash picker combing through a dumpster," DeLara said.

The safest way to prevent these problems is to drop unwanted and expired medicines into the Safemed receptacles. Veteran who receive their care at any Maryland Health Care System outpatient clinic can ask for the special mail-back, postage pre-paid envelopes to dispose of their unwanted medicines without incurring any costs.


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