Prescription Medication Safety

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"The desire to take medicine is perhaps the greatest feature which distinguishes man from animals." --William Olser

Medicine heals, but it also creates vulnerabilities that can increase our risk from time to time. Take the time to learn about safer ways to manage your meds.

Planning a Trip to the Pharmacy
Reduce your risk of becoming a victim of theft or violence when you're out picking up your medicine.
  • Avoid broadcasting the types of medicine that are prescribed to you.
  • Before leaving the pharmacy, conceal all your medications in a purse, bag or jacket. Maintain awareness of your surroundings through the parking area and once you enter your vehicle, lock the door immediately.
Safe Drug Disposal
Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—pose both potential safety and health hazards.
  • Prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding your home of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs by disposing of them at a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Take-Back Initiative event. To search for a collection site near you, visit
  • If you must throw away empty prescription bottles use a dark black marker to black out your name and the type of medicine you had. This can prevent trash pickers from knowing what you have (or might have) in your home.
Preventing Prescription Medication Theft
The reasons why some people choose to steal prescription medications are endless. Reduce your risk of becoming a victim of prescription medication theft by following the tips below and above all, never doubt that your medication is not valuable to a thief.
  • Don’t broadcast the types of medicine that are prescribed to you. Consider securing any narcotic medications such as oxycontin, vicodin or morphine in a locked or secure cabinet to reduce the possibility of theft.
  • Be open to the possibility that in some cases, even a member of your family or an employee could be or is the one trying to steal your medication.
  • Never leave prescriptions or pharmacy bags in plain sight in your vehicle or home.
  • Keep in mind pets are sometimes prescribed medicines that have the same name as human medications, and can easily be mistaken for human medicine. Therefore, treat your pets' medications the same way.
  • If you have been a victim of medication theft, contact law enforcement and your physician right away.
  • Explore additional safety tips by visiting Rx Safety Matters online.
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