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Proper disposal of expired and unused prescription medications could be life saving

'Those medications will still have some potency in them. When you’re dealing with kids it doesn’t take  much, so it can still be a harmful drug'

COVID-19 has meant the cancellation of countless events, including this years “Community  Drug Drop-off Day.”

Community Drug Strategy North Bay and Area typically organizes a collection day for expired and unused prescription medications and over the counter drugs.

“I consider it successful when you’re collecting as many as 98 pounds of drugs two years ago. It was an opportunity to educate people and get them to realize that whether it is over the counter or prescription medications, you need to turn them in if you’re not using them, ” said John Schultz Community Safety Coordinator with the North Bay Police Service.

This year, posters will be distributed throughout the community as a reminder of the dangers of keeping expired and unused prescriptions lying around in medicine cabinets and cupboards.

As part of the Youth In Policing Initiative (YIPI) for students, Saida Wells and Sheldon Kilroy will be bringing the message to seniors who represent the primary target group.

“We have posters made up so we’re going to go to every local senior’s home and we’re going to educate them about what they should be doing with their prescription drugs or any drugs that they are not using or have expired. It is important that they are bringing them to their pharmacy,” Wells said.

“We’re looking more at the senior’s buildings this time because generally speaking that is who has been showing up when we do our drug drop-off events,” explained Schultz.

“So, we just want to encourage them during these times of COVID, that they can still get their medications disposed of properly.”

The poster explains what can happen when prescription medications and over the counter drugs are left lying around.

“This leads to their potential misuse and abuse. Adults and seniors may inadvertently take expired or unused prescription medications that are no longer effective. This can have dangerous interactions with other mediations. Drugs that have been prescribed to treat a medical condition, or ones that are sold over-the-counter, may not be safe for everyone.”

Even expired medications can potentially be fatal if taken by a child.  

“Those medications will still have some potency in them. When you’re dealing with kids it doesn’t take  much, so it can still be a harmful drug,” said Schultz.

“We don’t want them falling into the wrong hands. We don’t want kids getting into them. Grandparents need to think of their grandchildren. So, you have to safeguard your drugs.”

Improperly disposing of medications of any kind by flushing them down the toilet, down the sink or throwing them out in the garbage has proven to have a negative impact on  the  environment.

“They can see it when they do testing on water in certain areas,” said Schultz.  

Before returning unused prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and natural health products, take the time to remove or black out any personal identification.

Place dry medications into a bag or container.

Keep liquids, creams and inhalers in their original packaging.

During their visits the YIPI students will be following COVID protocols put forward by the public health unit and the province.

“They have been issued masks and we have hand sanitizers,” said Schultz.

“COVID has to be taken seriously. So, we have talked to them about it, we’ve handed them some supplies so they will be doing this in a safe fashion.”