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#1
Old 06-06-2010, 02:57 AM
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Is it illegal to keep your expired painkillers?

I have no insurance. its a pain in the arse, and every so often, a pain in the head. I get migraines. For those of you not privy to the firsthand knowledge of what those are like, it's not "aw man, my head hurts", it's more like "please make it stop". From my experience, like many others, the best treatment is old-fashioned opioid painkillers.

if i had a bottle of a narcotic analgesic that was prescribed to me 2 years ago, would i be breaking the law if i kept it? I've tried to find some reliable information on this but most searches turn up results by "addiction help" sites saying that they should be thrown out because they are "poisonous" or will lead you down a dark path to damnation. i would think that the information would be more readily available on the legality of this. Anyone know?
#2
Old 06-06-2010, 03:31 AM
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Why would it be illegal? The expiration date is an (inaccurate) indication of the drug's effectiveness; it doesn't stop being legal on that date. You paid for the meds, they are yours. I don't see how anything else is relevant.
#3
Old 06-06-2010, 05:59 AM
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Definitely not illegal. The expiration date is only a good estimate of when some component of the medication might begin to be less effective. Keep your prescription meds in a container with your name on it (preferably the one you received from the pharmacy) if you're worried about the legalities, but the Expired Drug Police won't come after you just because your meds allegedly went off yesterday.
#4
Old 06-06-2010, 11:12 AM
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If you have kept drugs beyond the expiry date, I would think you aren't addicted or abusing them.

Just watch for signs of deterioration.

With younger children in the house, it may be prudent to actually lock them up for storage or dispose of them though.
#5
Old 06-06-2010, 11:35 AM
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I don't know, but I do know that when I asked my doc how to dispose of them, she simply said that I should lock them in a safe container.
#6
Old 06-06-2010, 11:51 AM
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Every single prescription I use (and that is at least 6 every month) has an expiration date exactly a year after I filled it. This is impossible and ther result of it is that the expiration date on prescription drugs is useless.

I have a bottle of 50 pills of some narcotic that I got over five years ago when I broke my ankle. I never used even one. I guess I should discard it. But I remember the time, 17 years ago when I had a back attack so severe I could not get out of bed and no doctor would prescribe a pain killer without an examination and doctors don't make house calls any more. It lasted over a month. So I like having an emergency narcotic around.
#7
Old 06-06-2010, 11:57 AM
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<nevermind>

Last edited by BigT; 06-06-2010 at 11:57 AM.
#8
Old 06-06-2010, 04:23 PM
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Weigh the risk

I have some in my medicine cabinet from 1985. Obviously, I'm not a big drug user. In an emergency, I believe I would take them. I would have more confidence in them than some older bullets that I have set aside.

Most drugs lose effectiveness in varying degrees over time, yet are not toxic. There are a few exception where a chemical change takes place that may put someone at risk. Search the Internet for your medication and see if anything pops up.

For the most part, the expiration date is about trying to guarantee a certain dosage effectiveness up to a point in time. They have to draw the line somewhere so it's often one year.
#9
Old 06-06-2010, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
Every single prescription I use (and that is at least 6 every month) has an expiration date exactly a year after I filled it. This is impossible and ther result of it is that the expiration date on prescription drugs is useless.
There is actually a reason for this. According to USP guidelines, when a medication is dispensed from a pharmacy, the expiration date is set at 1 year, or the date on the stock bottle, whichever is shorter. The reason for this is because once you take a medication home, there is no one to guarantee the storage conditions of the medication. Most drugs are suppose to be stored in a cool dry place around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This could be totally different then the bathroom medicine cabinets that most people store their drugs, so USP guidelines error on the side of caution.
#10
Old 06-06-2010, 11:11 PM
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Drug companies have a tradition of "under promise, over deliver" when it comes to expiration dates and retained efficacy.

One company I worked for did an internal, not-for-publish study that indicated that a particular diet med they were producing had a shelf life (with no loss in effectiveness) of 45-55 years. What did they stamp on it? 1 year from dispense. Maybe those things would be good for 100 years or more if stored in perfect lab conditions, who knows? They only bothered recreating the environments to simulate for 50 years and it came out fine.

Interesting side note: The actual composition of many gel-coated tablets? A hefty percentage of good old confectioner's sugar. The "active ingredient" portion is usually less than 25% of the tablet, and maybe as low as 2%. The reason for this is the dosage needs to wind up a decent sized pill, as people feel a bit cheated (plus the inconvenience of handling) ultra-tiny tablets. Active ingredients can be shockingly potent for their size.
#11
Old 06-07-2010, 02:20 AM
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Oh yes. My mom is a Nurse Practitioner, and she says the smallest dosage she's seen, IIRC, is 50 micrograms, which would be 5 milligrams. 5 FREAKING ONE THOUSANDTH of a gram. My god, that's potent stuff, whatever it is.

Cyanide is a famous classic poison, and I find this:

"LD50s for hydrogen cyanide have been estimated to be 1.1 mg/kg for intravenous administration and 100 mg/kg after skin exposure. The oral LD50s for sodium and potassium cyanide are about 100 and 200 mg/kg respectively."

Meaning that a large man of 100Kg would need 20 grams of KCN to have a 50/50 chance of killing him. The point being that something delivered in the microgram scale is indeed "shockingly potent." And I guess the stomach's digestion really dulls the effectiveness of cyanide.
#12
Old 06-07-2010, 02:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Cardinal View Post
Oh yes. My mom is a Nurse Practitioner, and she says the smallest dosage she's seen, IIRC, is 50 micrograms, which would be 5 milligrams.
nitpick: 0.05 milligrams actually. So it's even worse!
#13
Old 06-07-2010, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Sarabellum1976 View Post
Drug companies have a tradition of "under promise, over deliver" when it comes to expiration dates and retained efficacy....
"All of the pain medication these days is 'Super' this and 'Extra-strength' that. It's like the drug company PR guy goes to the lab boys and says, 'Make this strong enough to kill me, and then baaaaaack it off just a little.'" - Jerry Seinfeld
#14
Old 06-07-2010, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
The expiration date is an (inaccurate) indication of the drug's effectiveness...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lacunae Matata View Post
The expiration date is only a good estimate of when some component of the medication might begin to be less effective.
Not quite. If you have the original packaging (and you would, for an OTC drug, but would not if the medicine was dispensed in a pharmacy; the pharmacy has the original bulk package), then the expiration date on the package refers to the amount of time for which the drug has been shown to be stable, as required by law.

It is not a measure of drug effectiveness. It is not a time point at which the drug (might) begin to become less effective.

It is a time point at which the law no longer requires the product to be tested for stability and safety and therefore the manufacturer has not tested it further. Beyond this point (or, likely, a couple of months past that date, as a liability buffer), there is no data to tell you whether the drug is still useful, whether it has degraded into nothing more than a placebo, or whether it has degraded into something which may be toxic or cause complications for the medical condition you are attempting to treat.

Clearly expiration dates are not time bombs; the drug doesn't begin to self-destruct the day after the date on the label, but also clearly at some future point in time the drug will have degraded to some degree, only no one has studied when or by what mechanism that will occur, because they are not required to. Any data regarding this you may find on the internet does not come from a pharmaceutical company, since they do not test for what happens to a drug after the point when no one should be using it anyways.

While some drugs might be shown to be stable for 40, 50, 100 years, this cannot - by any means - be taken as meaningful for any other drug (or even for another formulation of the same drug). What happens to Tylenol has fuck all to do with what happens to etanercept or civamide or methotrexate anything else.

Taking an expired medication is taking a risk and there is no one who can give you any information whatsoever about how big that risk is.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
Every single prescription I use (and that is at least 6 every month) has an expiration date exactly a year after I filled it. This is impossible and ther result of it is that the expiration date on prescription drugs is useless.
The one-year expiration date on prescription medications has to do with pharmacy dispensing laws. It also has the added benefit of making you return to see your doctor if your condition does not improve and you run out of medicine. The product's expiration date as determined by the research and development that went into the drug design is on the original packaging (and company documentation regarding the specific lot number) and your pharmacist has that.
#15
Old 06-07-2010, 09:49 PM
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Um... I think I saw this in a magazine... How many "mic's" of LSD for a really good time? THERE is a potent drug.

Nobody has approached the point in which this topic hits BOTH medical AND legal advice:

If the prescription as in "the doctor's permission to have the stuff" in the first place - not the paper, not the pills, not the package - the doctor told you to take x every y often FOR 10 DAYS - and that was 5 years ago. During those 10 days, it was legal for you to have them.
How about now? Where is a doctor's (or a court's) PERMISSION to have those nasty drugs?
Doctors? Lawyers?
Mods llocking this thread?
5...4...3...

Last edited by usedtobe; 06-07-2010 at 09:50 PM.
#16
Old 06-07-2010, 11:17 PM
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But a prescription isn't a document saying it's only legal for you to HAVE them for use on x-number of days. Just that it is legal for the pharmacy to SELL you x-amount of the drug for a time period specified, or amount of refills specified. What you do with it afterwards is pretty much your business, as long as you don't sell a controlled substance to anyone else. But the pharmacy doesn't come to your house to search for unused tablets on the eleventh day...why would you get the idea it is illegal to possess them after the dosage time?
#17
Old 06-07-2010, 11:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banquo View Post
I have no insurance. its a pain in the arse, and every so often, a pain in the head. I get migraines. For those of you not privy to the firsthand knowledge of what those are like, it's not "aw man, my head hurts", it's more like "please make it stop". From my experience, like many others, the best treatment is old-fashioned opioid painkillers.

if i had a bottle of a narcotic analgesic that was prescribed to me 2 years ago, would i be breaking the law if i kept it? I've tried to find some reliable information on this but most searches turn up results by "addiction help" sites saying that they should be thrown out because they are "poisonous" or will lead you down a dark path to damnation. i would think that the information would be more readily available on the legality of this. Anyone know?
I can't answer your drug question but having battled migraines I would like to hear what you're going through. How do they start?
#18
Old 06-08-2010, 02:04 AM
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Originally Posted by kittenblue View Post
<snip>...why would you get the idea it is illegal to possess them after the dosage time?
Um, the fact that,absent some authority, it IS illegal to have them. If it was illegal to have them the day BEFORE the 'script was written, and I'm reasonably certain that I would not get too far arguing that "But your honor, I HAD a script for them in 1983, so it must be OK for me to have them now".

This is a matter that 'it didn't used to be legal for me to have them, then it was' - at what time does that permission expire?

Any cop who would let me slide with "those are just unused ones from 1983" is probably not destined for a long career.
#19
Old 07-26-2010, 08:39 PM
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[/QUOTE] I can't answer your drug question but having battled migraines I would like to hear what you're going through. How do they start?[/QUOTE]


For me it starts with the chills. it could be 90 degrees and i will begin to shudder. Then I start to feel a bit down, like drained and a little sad. After that is when the fun begins. I will start to get a blur in one eye. It will look a bit like water as runs down your windshield. The blur will start in the far side of my field of vision and work it's way in until i am blind in that eye. After about 20-30 minutes the blur will begin to vanish and the nausea and pain will begin. Although one time I got the aura and had no migraine.....weird.

[/QUOTE]If you have kept drugs beyond the expiry date, I would think you aren't addicted or abusing them[/QUOTE]

What assumption are you basing that on? If I were addicted, wouldn't the meds be taken before they had a chance to expire?
#20
Old 07-26-2010, 09:12 PM
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I agree that it is not illegal to possess outdated medications in your home, but trouble might arise if you actually take them. If your job has drug testing (random or event based) and you test positive for narcotics, showing a script for said narcotics dated 2 years ago right after your appendectomy is probably not going to cut it with your employer.
#21
Old 07-26-2010, 09:27 PM
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Why would it be illegal? Totally unenforceable. What jobs test for pills though? Lots of pain killers will show up positive for an opioid but after showing them the bottle and saying you had a migraine I cannot expect anyone getting fired for that. Maybe for jobs that require you to use machinery but even that
#22
Old 07-26-2010, 11:02 PM
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What does a job related drug test have to do with legality of expired prescription drugs?
#23
Old 07-27-2010, 07:52 AM
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If it is illegal, my GP needs to be told. I asked her how to dispose of them and she said the best thing to do was to seal them up and store them out of reach of children...
#24
Old 07-27-2010, 12:22 PM
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Oh, Lordy, if it's illegal to keep expired meds, my mother can expect the paddywagon at any minute. I've found ointments and OTCs and things in her medicine cabinet that had been expired close to a decade. Lock her up! Throw away the key!
#25
Old 07-27-2010, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usedtobe View Post
Um, the fact that,absent some authority, it IS illegal to have them. If it was illegal to have them the day BEFORE the 'script was written, and I'm reasonably certain that I would not get too far arguing that "But your honor, I HAD a script for them in 1983, so it must be OK for me to have them now".

This is a matter that 'it didn't used to be legal for me to have them, then it was' - at what time does that permission expire?

Any cop who would let me slide with "those are just unused ones from 1983" is probably not destined for a long career.
Their burden of proof. I think any cop that routinely arrested someone that had pills in a prescription container with his or her name on it is probably not destined for a long career.

I assume medical records are kept around long enough for emergency vindication in any event.
#26
Old 07-27-2010, 01:01 PM
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When my grandmother died the hospice nurse washed all her remaining prescription drugs down our kitchen sink.
#27
Old 07-27-2010, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qwakkeddup View Post
If you have kept drugs beyond the expiry date, I would think you aren't addicted or abusing them.

Just watch for signs of deterioration.

With younger children in the house, it may be prudent to actually lock them up for storage or dispose of them though.
Sorry, i misread your quote earlier. I am curious as to how certain drugs will deteriorate. I haven't actually taken these specific drugs in several months. They have NOT been stored in a cool, dry place. If I went anywhere, they went with me just in case so they've been in my pockets on hot days and damp days. Aside from the legal implications, Iv'e been looking for information on weather or not they might degrade, oxidize, ferment, ect. into something toxic

Last edited by Banquo; 07-27-2010 at 03:30 PM.
#28
Old 07-28-2010, 12:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sister Vigilante View Post
When my grandmother died the hospice nurse washed all her remaining prescription drugs down our kitchen sink.
That makes sense, as the point is that only you can take medicine prescribed for you. Plus, if you've saved up your own medicine by not taking it all, you probably aren't addicted (as mentioned upthread). You have no such assurances if it's the medicine of someone who can no longer take them, given to someone else.

I personally never use all of my cough syrup, and keep it around so I don't have to buy new since my insurance won't cover it. I usually wind up having to throw it out.
#29
Old 07-28-2010, 10:35 AM
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In Ohio, there's now an ad campaign asking people NOT to flush their unused meds down the toilet, or wash them down the sink - depending on where you live, it might end up in a lake and can cumulatively hurt wildlife. See here: http://wrd.clermontcountyohio.gov/Pr...tionDrugs.aspx
#30
Old 07-28-2010, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Amblydoper View Post
What does a job related drug test have to do with legality of expired prescription drugs?
Well, maybe not a lot to do with the actual legality, per se. But let's say you test positive for opiates. Then you say "Yeah, I had this legal prescription for oxycontin 4 years ago, see this bottle? I didn't use it all, and a couple days ago when I got a sore back I remembered I had some left.". I think the point was that they are very likely not to believe that, even if the bottle has some oxycontin pills in it, that you could have obtained illegally.
#31
Old 07-28-2010, 12:01 PM
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Medical advisability, and legality are separate issues. Some drugs require prescriptions, some of them are controlled substances, and cannot be possessed without a valid prescription. A valid prescription contains dates to begin, and end use of the drug. The license to possess this substance only covers the period between those dates, not the date of expiration of the drug lot. While it is unlikely that you will be prosecuted for possession of a Tylenol III after the date you prescription expires, it is legally possible.

Tris
#32
Old 07-28-2010, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triskadecamus View Post
A valid prescription contains dates to begin, and end use of the drug. The license to possess this substance only covers the period between those dates, not the date of expiration of the drug lot.
Tris
Is the "discard by" date the license expiration or the drug expiration date?
#33
Old 07-28-2010, 05:07 PM
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When I broke a bone in my ankle, they operated and inserted a plate. Then they sent me home with 50 vicodin. I still have the whole 50, pretty good evidence that I am not addicted. Don't cops have better things to do? Now if I tried to sell them (I am told they are pretty valuable on the black market), that would plainly be illegal.

Why have I kept them for 6 years? Well, during the summer of '93, I had a very bad back. Very bad. Our family doctor was on vacation and no doctor would write prescription with a visit. At the time I could not either sit or stand for more than about a minute without excruciating pain. You cannot believe how fast I was defecating and showering. Finally, our doctor came back, he prescribed a pain killer and only then, things gradually improved. Never again will I be caught without a strong painkiller.
#34
Old 07-29-2010, 04:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sister Vigilante View Post
When my grandmother died the hospice nurse washed all her remaining prescription drugs down our kitchen sink.
This is of course a terrible idea; the drugs pass through sewage treatment unchanged and enter into downriver water supplies. Return drugs to your pharmacist for proper disposal (or just keep 'em, they might come in handy).
#35
Old 07-31-2014, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Qwakkeddup View Post
If you have kept drugs beyond the expiry date, I would think you aren't addicted or abusing them.

Just watch for signs of deterioration.

With younger children in the house, it may be prudent to actually lock them up for storage or dispose of them though.


I work in the Drug Testing industry and the problem with Old Med BOTTLES is that ppl often keep OLD bottles and refill with Pills which have been illegally purchased on the street.
#36
Old 07-31-2014, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lacunae Matata View Post
Definitely not illegal. The expiration date is only a good estimate of when some component of the medication might begin to be less effective. Keep your prescription meds in a container with your name on it (preferably the one you received from the pharmacy) if you're worried about the legalities, but the Expired Drug Police won't come after you just because your meds allegedly went off yesterday.
Given how short the expiration dates are, and how they do not vary depending on the compound, the dates are essentially bullshit. All they mean is the drug company has tested out to that date and is pretty sure the medicine is still valid. I suspect that many of these compounds will continue to work centuries later.
#37
Old 07-31-2014, 04:14 PM
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Apparently if stored properly you can stretch cipro out at least 8 years past expiration. My limited understanding of medication expiration dates is this -- a drug company will test a drug for a set period of time, lets say three years. If the drug is still good at three years and they choose to stop testing at that point, its just called three years. The drug may be good for another decade, they just stopped testing to see if it is.

http://defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx%3Fid=44979
#38
Old 07-31-2014, 04:38 PM
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Cecil did a column on expired meds, in case anyone finds that helpful.

https://academicpursuits.us/columns/...drugs-kill-you

IANAL, but I don't think keeping expired prescription drugs on hand is illegal. Just keep them out of reach of those for whom they were NOT prescribed.
#39
Old 07-31-2014, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baffle View Post
Return drugs to your pharmacist for proper disposal (or just keep 'em, they might come in handy).
I am trying to dispose of a mountain of drugs left over after my wife died, but no pharmacy I've called (CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid) has any policy of accepting drugs for disposal. They directed me to local law enforcement, but even then I only found one police department with such a policy.
#40
Old 07-31-2014, 05:03 PM
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Not illegal if the drugs are the drugs that were originally dispensed in the container. However if you are getting the same drugs illegaly and then keeping them in the expired bottle to cover your tracks, then that is illegal.
#41
Old 07-31-2014, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddsun View Post
Cecil did a column on expired meds, in case anyone finds that helpful.

https://academicpursuits.us/columns/...drugs-kill-you

IANAL, but I don't think keeping expired prescription drugs on hand is illegal. Just keep them out of reach of those for whom they were NOT prescribed.
I've heard this advice and have often wondered how it is supposed to work. Should my wife and I have matching locking medicine cabinets?
#42
Old 07-31-2014, 05:27 PM
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If you didn't finish them within a month or two, the idea that your keeping them for 2 years is even in the same universe as "addiction" is laughable.

It took me 15 months to finish the 30 Flexerill I got in March of last year when my back went out so bad that even when I tried my best to stand up straight, I had a hard cant to the right. I only used 14 that time, then saved the rest for later repetitions. (I have a herniated disk in my lower back. They never really heal and I have some kind of 'incident' with it at least once a year.) Finally used the last one in June. Most of them only 1/2 a pill at a time and mostly so I could sleep.

I surrendered a bottle of diet pills that had the unfortunate side effect of Phen Rage to my (new) Doctor (the old one being the one who prescribed them and it being the reason he was no longer my doctor). He didn't seem thrilled to take them, so I just left them in the room on my way out.
#43
Old 08-01-2014, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Banquo View Post
I have no insurance.<snip>
Are you in the US?

Red states don't want you to bee insured, but Blue states are all over themselves to get everyone covered.

('Pubbies hate the black man and everything he's done).

If you can't afford subsidized insurance through ACA ("ACA" gets less hostility than "Obamacare"), a Blue State will probably cover you on Medic-aid (greatly expanded (with Fed $) under ACA - 'Pubbies won't even take the money in front of them because it came from a Black Man).

My roomie (who tries to live on $700/mo Soc Sec) just got all new dentures at no cost. This is CA, the Bluest of the Blue (except for rural ares, where Alabama is their role model)

See healthcare.gov for a start.
#44
Old 08-01-2014, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
I am trying to dispose of a mountain of drugs left over after my wife died, but no pharmacy I've called (CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid) has any policy of accepting drugs for disposal. They directed me to local law enforcement, but even then I only found one police department with such a policy.
GEt a detergent bottle, fill it halfway with used nasty kitty litter. Dump the pills out of the bottles and into the litter. Bonus points for being able to dump liquid meds in as well. Seal, shake well to mix. Toss into the trash with everything else.
#45
Old 08-01-2014, 08:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usedtobe View Post
Are you in the US?

Red states don't want you to bee insured, but Blue states are all over themselves to get everyone covered.

('Pubbies hate the black man and everything he's done).

If you can't afford subsidized insurance through ACA ("ACA" gets less hostility than "Obamacare"), a Blue State will probably cover you on Medic-aid (greatly expanded (with Fed $) under ACA - 'Pubbies won't even take the money in front of them because it came from a Black Man).

My roomie (who tries to live on $700/mo Soc Sec) just got all new dentures at no cost. This is CA, the Bluest of the Blue (except for rural ares, where Alabama is their role model)

See healthcare.gov for a start.
MODERATOR STEPS IN

usedtobe. No warning, but a caution to keep politics out of the answers in General Questions.

samclem, moderator
#46
Old 08-01-2014, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Banquo View Post
From my experience, like many others, the best treatment is old-fashioned opioid painkillers.
Not for this chronic migraine-sufferer. Opiates really don't touch my migraines, some will actually make them worse (by increasing my nausea). I've been battling them for years and now am treated off-label with a cocktail of drugs at a neurological pain institute that specializes in migraine. This cocktail is used as a prophylactic and works fairly well but occasionally I will still get a migraine. When i do, I've found that the only abortive medication, prescription or otc, that provides me ANY relief is extra strength Excedrin.
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