Health & Safety

April 26, 2013

Danger: Be aware of expired medications

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Airman First Class Timothy Young
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

expired-meds1
NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Unused and expired medications can be harmful to public and environmental safety if not properly handled.

Many people are unaware of the laws associated with properly disposing and handling unused and expired medications.

Prescription medications can be just as dangerous as street drugs without the prescription and doctor’s supervision, said Capt. Joshua Hall, 99th Medical Support Squadron staff pharmacist.

Most abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, said Cheryl Tierney, 99th Security Forces Squadron criminal investigator.

Most people give away their unused prescription medications without second thought, she said. Not only is it illegal to use prescription drugs that are not prescribed to you, but it is also illegal to share them with someone else.

Even using prescribed medication with your name on it can lead to legal action against you if your prescription for that medication has expired.
“If you test positive for any medication, unless active on your profile, you can be punished,” he added.

Prescription drugs have expiration dates for a reason and can have consequences if ignored.

“Prescriptions are only good for so long,” Hall said. “Some medications in particular can become poisonous after a while and others lose their potency.”

Proper disposal of unused or expired prescription medication is an easy way for people to combat drug abuse and protect the environment.

“Improper disposal of medications can lead to accidental poisoning; whether it comes to children or adults,” Tierney said. “If you’re taking expired medications, you have the threat of poisoning, overdose and abuse.”

“Unused prescription drugs thrown in the trash can be retrieved and abused or illegally sold,” Hall said. “Unused drugs that are flushed contaminate the water supply.”

There are a few options when it comes to properly disposing of prescription medications.

“At any time, you can go down to any Metro police station with expired medications and turn them in without any questions being asked,” Tierney said.

People can take their unused or expired medications to The Exchange April 27 from10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to be turned in and ask medication specific questions to a member of the Nellis pharmacy staff. This turn in is in collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies. Medications from prescription to over-the-counter will be accepted.

“The purpose is to get unused prescriptions and meds off the streets and out of houses,” Hall said.

“Pharmaceuticals can be just as dangerous as street drugs without the prescription and doctor’s supervision,” Tierney added.

Knowing where and when to dispose of old prescription medications is the first step to keeping them in the proper hands, out of the environment and off the streets.




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