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Spring clean your medicine cabinet

Out with the old and in with the new – even for your medications. Don't forget Norman Tang, Manager, Outpatient Pharmacy, North York General Hospitalyour medicine cabinet when spring cleaning your home. The Pulse sat down with Norman Tang, Manager of North York General Hospital's Outpatient Pharmacy, to get some helpful tips.

Photo: Norman Tang, Manager of the Outpatient Pharmacy
 
  • Location, location, location – Where you store your medications is just as important as checking for expiry dates. Norman recommends keeping them in a clean, dry and cool area. If you keep your medications in the washroom or under the sink, consider changing location to an area where they won't be exposed to humidity. If you have children, consider a higher cabinet where your children can't access it.

  • The value of original packaging – It is important to keep all your medications in their original packaging. Storing pills in other empty containers and throwing out packaging with instructions can be dangerous. Keep everything in its original package to know how to take the medication, what it's for and when it expires.

  • Expiry dates, odours and discolouration – Check all your medications including ointments, eye drops and vitamins for their expiry dates. Some medications may become discoloured or the smell may change even before the expiry date and should be destroyed as well. If you are unsure, check with your pharmacist.

  • Disposing of expired medication – Once you've checked your medications and have separated all your expired prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, do not flush them down the toilet/sink or dispose of them in the garbage. Bring your old medications to any pharmacy to have them disposed of properly at no charge.

  • Annual check-up – It's a good idea to clean your cabinet once a year to check expiry dates and stock up on items you use regularly.
If you have any questions or concerns about your medication being expired, make sure to consult with your pharmacist notes Norman. The Outpatient Pharmacy at North York General is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. During these hours you can reach the pharmacy at 416-756-6752.
 
Don't forget your medicine cabinet when spring cleaning your home.
 
May 3, 2016

This article first appeared in the May 2016 issue of The Pulse, North York General Hospital's community newsletter. Subscribe to receive 10 issues per year.

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