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March 24, 2017

Safe Medication Disposal: Blue Ridge Poison Center Offers Important Tips

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In 2015, nearly 57 percent of all poison exposure cases nationwide involved prescription or over-the-counter medicines. As such, it’s important to ensure safe medication disposal and storage.

So during National Poisoning Prevention Week, the Blue Ridge Poison Center at University of Virginia Health System is encouraging people to keep all medicines stored out of the sight and reach of children, read labels carefully before giving or taking any medicine, and to check their home for expired or unused medicines and dispose of them properly.

“Keeping left over or expired drugs is a poisoning accident waiting to happen,” said Kristin Wenger, the poison center’s education coordinator. “Removing these products is the only way to guarantee they do not fall into the wrong hands.”

Safe Medication Disposal

Many people don’t know the safe and proper way to get rid of medicine, Wenger adds. The Blue Ridge Poison Center follows the guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

  • MIX with something unpleasant, such as coffee grounds or kitty litter
  • PLACE in a sealed plastic bag or other container
  • THROW the container out with the household trash
  • SCRATCH OUT label information on prescription bottles before throwing away

As National Poisoning Prevention Week reaches its conclusion, Wenger and her colleagues at the poison center want to remind the public that many poisonings are preventable, and expert help is just a phone call away and is available around the clock.

“If someone accidentally takes the wrong medicine, swallows anything that is not food or medicine, or overdoses on any medicine, call the poison center right away at 1.800.222.1222 for free, confidential, expert advice. Program the number into your cell phone and post it somewhere visible in your home,” she said.

For additional poisoning prevention tips and resources, visit the Blue Ridge Poison Center’s website at

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