Nearly 40% of American Households Surveyed Have Expired Over-The-Counter Medications

Medications for cough, sore throat and flu among the most common to be found expired when needed. Proper disposal of medications is also an issue, according to a consumer survey conducted by Walgreens in its 2010 Over-The-Counter Household Inventory and Consumer Attitude Study. The study showed that nearly 40 percent of U.S. households surveyed have at least one bottle of expired over- the-counter (OTC) medication in the home. Nearly all households polled had OTC medications on hand with the most common being pain relievers, cough/cold treatments and allergy relief. In individual interviews, most consumers said they were surprised to find expired drugs in their home, with half stating they are typically not aware a medication is expired until it is needed. According to the Walgreens study, 55 percent of those surveyed with OTC medications in their home said they are likely to knowingly take expired drugs, especially within the first few months after a medication has expired. Though most parents tend to check expiration dates more frequently, more than a third said they have given their children medication that had expired in the previous six months. In addition, when consumers dispose of medication, more than 60 percent of those surveyed said they dispose of medications in the household garbage. In September, Walgreens launched the first ongoing, nationwide Safe Medication Disposal Program, a safe and environmentally responsible alternative way to dispose of unused or expired medications. Customers can purchase a specially designed envelope available at any Walgreens pharmacy counter that allows them to place, seal and mail prescription or over-the-counter medications they no longer use for safe, eco-friendly disposal. Controlled substances are excluded from this program due to current regulations. Postage is included in the cost of the envelope.