When was the last time you cleaned out your family medicine cabinet? Chances are fair that it contains a few bottles of expired cough syrup, the remnants of that course of antibiotics you didn’t finish and possibly a selection of vitamins you purchased with the intention of going on a health kick! Now is as good a time as any to take stock of the medicine cabinet and streamline the contents. If you are not sure where to start, then remember your local pharmacist can offer advice.

Get Rid of Expired Medications

The first step in cleaning out that medicine cabinet is to check the expiration dates. This includes ointments and supplements as well as over the counter medications. If you are not sure about where to find the expiration date your local pharmacist will be only too willing to help you out. Not only do many medications lose potency over time, but some can even become toxic. They have an expiration date for a reason, so it is important to take heed! In the case of prescription medications, if no expiration date is stated the general rule is one year from the date it was issued. However, if you are unsure you can again ask your local pharmacist for advice.

Restock the First Aid Kit

While you are cleaning out the medicine cabinet, it is a great opportunity to check the household first aid kit and replenish it. Make sure you have all of the essential items that you may need to deal with minor injuries and common illnesses. Your local pharmacist is a great source of information on what should be included in your first aid kit.

Review Your Current Prescriptions

Aside from throwing out those unwanted and expired over the counter medications, it is also a good idea to take a good look at your prescription medications too. It is surprising how many patients simply pick up their monthly prescription every month without actually checking to see if they need the refill! Perhaps you have reduced how many painkillers you use daily? That means a box is going to last you 6 to 8 weeks instead of the usual month. It has also been shown that a staggering 92% of surgical patients have unopened opioids at home that they did not use following their procedure!

There is also a possibility that you may not need to be taking all of the medications you have been prescribed. Studies show that over half of all patients have never even thought about asking if it is possible to stop taking their medication. Obviously for some conditions medication is for life, but in some cases, once there has been a considerable improvement, it can be possible to reduce the dose or remove the medication completely. Why not talk to your local pharmacist and ask for a medication review. They will offer advice and refer you to your doctor if they feel it is necessary.

Dispose of Medicines Appropriately

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you must dispose of medication appropriately. The safest option is to return any unwanted medications. The US Drug Enforcement Administration hosts regular take-back events in communities nationwide with temporary collection points. There are also permanent collection sites set up – usually at hospitals, law enforcement facilities or even with your local pharmacist. If you cannot get to a collection point, you can dispose of most medicines with the household trash by following these steps:

  • Mix the medication with an unpalatable substance like cat litter, dirt or coffee grounds
  • Place the medication into a sealed container
  • Immediately place the container in your outdoor trash (so it is away from children in the house)
  • Remove any identifying information from the labels and dispose of the bottles.


Your Hometown Pharmacy Since 1966

Vaughn Pharmacy is a local, family-owned pharmacy serving the community in Powell, TN. Specializing in providing personalized and attentive prescription programs to our patients, we believe you are more than just a number – you’re part of our family!


(865) 947-1581