If you’re like many Americans, your medicine cabinet is full of pill bottles you no longer use — stamped with expiration dates that passed ages ago. Those expiration dates are intended to represent the last date on which manufacturers can guarantee that drugs are both potent and safe.
Interestingly, a groundbreaking Food and Drug Administration study found that some drugs are safe and effective over a decade after their expiration date. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s prudent to let expired drugs sit around. If accidentally ingested, unwanted pills could prove dangerous or even deadly. This is particularly true for medications that contain controlled substances. Sometimes, a single pill is all it takes to cause damage. Accidental ingestion is far more likely with forgotten medications that are improperly labeled or left in easily accessible locations.
If you have children at home or otherwise suspect that expired pills could be accidentally ingested, it’s best to take action now. Below, we offer instructions for safely disposing of prescription pills.