Why ‘spring cleaning’ your medicine cabinet is a good idea

CBS4 This Morning

INDIANAPOLIS -It’s the time of year again when people think about cleaning or decluttering their homes as we usher in the warmer months. Now health officials are asking people to include their medicine cabinets with their spring cleaning.

Saturday, April 24th is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. While the urge to hold onto spare medication just in case it’s needed down the road is understandable, pharmacists say in many cases you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Chelsea Durnil, a clinical pharmacist with IU Health says expired medicines can be less effective, even potentially risky.

“Medications break down over time. When a patient takes an expired medication, it’s not going to work as well to begin with so they’re deferring resolution of whatever symptoms they’re trying to treat or whatever illness they may have. And I try to counsel my patients to not keep expired antibiotics. That’s just going to the global antibiotic’s resistance going on,” Durnil said.

There’s also a bigger issue at play. The CDC reports that 50,000 young children end up in emergency rooms each year because they ingested medicines while an adult wasn’t looking. And according to drugfree.org, more than four in 10 teens who have misused or abused a prescription drug obtained it from their parents’ medicine cabinet.    

“Opioid abuse, and prescription drug abuse is a big concern still in our country. This is a way for them to help do their part and reduce the incidents of accidental overdose, or illegal abuse, or just medications ending up in the wrong hands,” Durnil said.

In many cases, it’s not advised to throw unused medications in the garbage or down the drain. During National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, medications can be dropped off at any Indiana State Police post (excluding the toll road post). There’s also drop box locations listed on the DEA website.

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