Do you have long leftover pain pills lying around such as Percocet, Vicodin and Norco? Do you feel it’d be a waste to trash them even though they may have expired?

Since narcotic pain pills are often used on an as-needed basis, it’s easy for them to be around long enough to be considered leftover.

“Patients should follow the instructions given on how to take the meds,” says Sashini Seeni, MD, a family medicine practitioner with DoctorOnCall, an online doctor and pharmacy.

“We do not recommend our patients keep their leftover pain meds for later use. Why? 

“Well, the first reason is for their own safety. The meds might be expired without being realized, and be reachable by your kids and pets.

“This is deadly dangerous: to ingest expired painkillers.

“Besides, the opioid with a certain amount of doses could be addictive.

“Here, the problems come when your leftover drugs pass over into the wrong person; they might divert the meds as illicit use. Overdose of these drugs can kill that person.

“Thus, FDA recommends us to dispose of unused leftover painkillers.”

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: Study

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine , 60 percent of surveyed adults leave unused narcotics lying around for a long time.

It’s not that these pain pills, sitting on shelves for long periods, morph into a level of toxicity that can be lethal at prescribed doses.

The problem is that they can be misused by accident, or even deliberately.

With leftover narcotics in a house, it’s more tempting to pop one of these for every little ache or pain, which can lead to dependence.

The report says that about half of the subjects who were surveyed for the study said that they did not receive information on safe storage of leftover narcotics or how to keep them from vulnerable populations.

Seems a cheap, well-hidden lockbox would do the trick, but unfortunately, a simple solution such as this does not cross the minds of many people.

If you have a mess of pain pill bottles, it’s time to take inventory and keep only what you absolutely need — as long as it has not expired.

DoctorOnCall is the largest digital healthcare platform for citizens of Malaysia, allowing patients to consult doctors for advice, book appointments and place orders with local pharmacies.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.