Ask the Pharmacist

Comment #1

Readers often go to their medicine chests and find a lot of old bottles, only to ask themselves which medications should be flushed and which can be thrown in the trash?

In the end, it’s a balancing act between polluting the environment by flushing various medications down the toilet and risking accidental poisoning or drug diversion by placing expired or unwanted medication in the trash. Here are some simple steps.

First, take all medications out of their packages or vials and mix the medications with coffee grounds, kitty litter, or another unpalatable substance. Put this concoction in an unmarked can or SEALED bag. Many household hazardous waste facilities will take expired or unwanted medicines (but not controlled substances); such community take back programs are the safest method for drug disposal. If one cannot find such a program or it is inconvenient to use, then dispose with regular trash but using the sealed bag.

Second, Federal Guidelines will allow some medications to be flushed; typically, the labeling on the package or accompanying patient information will detail if a specific medication is allowed to be flushed. Unfortunately, many people no longer had the original labeling or patient information. So, if that is the case, go back to step one or continue to step 3.

Third, Conney’s Pharmacy can dispose of some medications, Please inquire with any questions. To inquire about a specific medication, please do no hesitate to call Conney’s Pharmacy at 847-446-0032.

Fourth, donate or give to charity. Many areas in Chicago will accept expired or unwanted medications.

Finally, for more information, go to

Comment #2

Should all medications be stored in the refrigerator or freezer?

The simple answer to this question is no. Today, most medicines will have indication if they should be stored in the refrigerator. Mostly insulin, some suppositories, and a few specific medications are to be stored in the refrigerator. To inquire about a specific medication, please do no hesitate to call Conney’s Pharmacy at 847-446-0032.

Comment #3

Should all medications be taken with food or on an empty stomach?

This is a complex subject that cannot be answered with a strict “yes” or a “no.” It mostly depends on the specific medication. Some medications, like Fosamax, must be taken on an empty stomach (and one must sit upright /stand), whereas other medications should be taken with food. It is important to tailor one’s medication times around one’s life style, especially medications (including vitamins) which are taken each day. It is important to read the label on the bottle or the package and keep this in mind when trying to answer this question.