Why you should stop throwing out your old or unused prescription drugs

Click to play video: 'National prescription drug drop-off day'
National prescription drug drop-off day
WATCH ABOVE: Thu, May 19: Do you have old prescription medication around your house? The correct way to dispose of old drugs is to return them to the pharmacy, and as Leslie Horton shows us, you can do that this Saturday at the fourth annual National Prescription Drug Drop-Off Day – May 19, 2016

Calgarians are being cautioned against throwing out unused or expired prescription drugs, and asked to instead drop them off at area pharmacies.

The warning from Calgary police and Alberta Health Services (AHS) comes in advance of National Prescription Drop-off Day on Saturday.

“To reduce the availability of these harmful drugs to our children and loved ones, it is important that we properly dispose of any medications that are no longer in use,” Calgary Police Service Staff-Sgt. Martin Schiavetta said in a Thursday news release.

According to police, expired medication is considered hazardous waste and should not be disposed of in the garbage, flushed down the toilet or poured down drains.

Instead, pharmacists recommend cleaning out medicine cabinets once a year and taking leftover or unused medications to any pharmacy for proper disposal.

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Dr. Mark Yarema, medical director of Poison and Drug Information Service with Alberta Health Services said whether intentional or accidental, ingestion of leftover prescription drugs is a very real risk to the health of Albertans.

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“We encourage you to make the prescription drop-off a part of your household routine.”

Tips for cleaning out your medicine cabinet from London Drugs:

  • Check expiration dates and remove products that are expired

Virtually every medication – from vitamins, to prescription medications, to over-the-counter products – have expiry dates. Keep in mind that some products can expire before the date on the label once opened. When in doubt, ask a pharmacist.

  • Remove any medication not in its original container

If you can’t remember what a medication is for or who it was for, get rid of it. As much as possible, keep your medication in its original packaging. Mixing different medications in the same container or storing them outside of their original packaging increases the likelihood of accidental overdose or poisonings.

  • Place unwanted and expired drugs in a clear plastic bag

Medications in blister packs and forms of liquid and cream medications can also be included in the plastic bag.

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  • Drop off your unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications at the pharmacy

These medications will be safely incinerated, preventing them from being abused, entering landfills or the sewer system. London Drugs also recycles medication bottles, lids and medication vials. Be sure to remove personal information by taking off the label or by using a marker to black out personal information.

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