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Cleaning Out Your Medicine Cabinet Can Save Lives

April 18th, 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019 marks Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day. Cleaning out your medicine cabinet can be crucial when it comes to maintaining good health and the safety of your family.

Did You Know: Each day, roughly four school busloads of U.S. children are seen in emergency rooms after ingesting medications found in medicine cabinets in their homes?

Did You Know: Overfilled, cluttered and unsupervised medicine cabinets have contributed to about 2.3 million children, ages 12-17, to abuse prescription drugs, according to Columbia University's National Center?

“The importance of appropriate disposal of unused, expired and unnecessary medications cannot be overemphasized,” said Mercy Medical Center’s Director of Pharmacy Mark Macchia. “On Long Island alone, we have seen how opioids not secured in households, have led to tragedy. Let’s clean out those medicine cabinets, and other medications storage locations, so we can keep everyone safe.”

Health care professionals strongly recommended that all prescription medications be destroyed one year after the pharmacy dispenses them. In 1979, a law was passed that required drug manufacturers to stamp expiration dates on all prescribed products. This was done to ensure that drugs maintained full potency and that they were safe, while also keeping manufactures accountable for their products. 

Harold K. Siroata, DO, of Mercy Medical Center’s Sunrise Medical Associates in Valley Stream, said “Storing your medication in a cool place (refrigerator) will extend the potency of your. However, I still recommend that you check in with your doctor to insure that your prescription is 100 percent effective.”  

Disposing your Meds
So now that you’re ready to clean up your medicine cabinet, where do you throw out the old prescriptions?

St. Joseph Hospital’s Vice President of Patient Safety & Clinical Program Development Ihab Ibrahim said, “In the past, most people flushed medicines down the toilet. But today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) no longer recommends this. Sewage treatment plants may not be able to filter the contents of the medications out of the water. Additionally, flushing meds may harm fish and wildlife. Fortunately, our drinking water hasn’t been affected as traces of medicines have rarely been found.”

Saturday, April 27, 2019 is the U.S. Department of Justice’s 17th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. For a location of where you can drop off your medication, visit