The pharmacist in me cringes when I’m watching a show or movie and a character opens a medicine cabinet that’s packed with leftover and unused medication. And while I know they’re just props, I suspect that art closely imitates life in this regard. I fear just about every medicine cabinet or bathroom drawer contains some unused, expired, or long-forgotten prescription or over-the-counter medications.
From a safety perspective, there’s always the danger that unused medications can fall into the wrong hands and be taken improperly, either deliberately or by accident. We all know this can have serious, and even deadly, consequences.
From a health outcomes perspective, the overflowing medicine cabinet suggests that patients haven’t completed their medications as directed. This can be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a drug wasn’t well tolerated by a patient, so the doctor prescribed an alternative treatment. But it might also be that the patient stopped taking the medication when they started to feel better.