Medication storage involves more than just putting them on your shelves. And medication disposal is a bit more complex than throwing them in the trash. But you already know that.

Medication storage is an essential part of your independent pharmacy’s success. While some of it involves physical maintenance like dusting your shelves, medication storage requires your usual care and attention to detail.

Here’s how you can take your medication storage and disposal methods to the next level.

Clean Your Pharmacy’s Shelves

Let’s begin with the basics. Cleaning your shelves is an important part of your independent pharmacy’s aesthetics.

Potential customers are more likely to prefer a cleaner pharmacy than one where dust flies off the shelves whenever a tech picks up a bottle. Studies show that 69% of customers will not go to a store that they feel is dirty and will shop elsewhere.

Cleaning any part of your independent pharmacy is time-consuming, especially during peak hours. Nevertheless, it needs to be done.

Clean your pharmacy shelves on a regular basis. Sundays might be your best bet (if your independent pharmacy is open) since it’s usually the least busy day of the week.

Take the post-lunch lull to clean your pharmacy shelves and neatly arrange your medication bottles.

Not only will the shelves look aesthetically pleasing, but a neat shelf will boost your independent pharmacy’s workflow. Form and function — the best of both worlds.

Read our “Spring Clean Your Pharmacy with These 5 Tips” for more information on how to leave your independent pharmacy spotless.

Keep Track of Expiration Dates

Then we get to the medications themselves. Your independent pharmacy stocks large quantities of several medications, making it easy for some to get lost in the shuffle.

While you’re cleaning your pharmacy shelves, put the soonest-to-expire bottles at the front so you can fill them first. This will prevent you from returning bottles to the manufacturer that never needed to be returned in the first place.

The same goes for your refrigerated medications. Though that little fridge might get filled up after a while, it is still essential to keep track of expiration dates.

It is arguably more vital to ensure your refrigerated medications are up to date, both for your patient’s health and your financial bottom line. Refrigerated medications are among the most expensive medications your independent pharmacy carries.

Expired or soon-to-expire medications are a large part of your pharmacy’s medication storage methods. It’s easy for an expired medication to slip through the cracks, but being on top of it is absolutely essential.

How to Store Your Schedule II Medications

It goes without saying that Schedule II medications are the most sensitive medications in your independent pharmacy. Filling them is a drastically different process from filling regular medications, both from a healthcare and legal perspective.

As such, your medication storage approach will differ from the rest of your inventory.

All pharmacists must store their Schedule 2 medications in a burglar-resistant safe. If the safe weighs less than 750 pounds, it must be locked or bolted to the floor or wall to prevent it from easily being picked up.

Some safes are time-delayed, meaning they will unlock a few minutes after you input the lock code. This might seem inconvenient during peak hours, but it is a safety measure to minimize burglary attempts.

Then we get to the medication storage aspect of your Schedule II medications. Many of the previously mentioned tips apply.

Dispensing an expired Schedule II medication will lead to a tsunami of health and legal consequences, so make sure your ducks are in a row.

Depending on your pharmacy software system, you can automatically update your inventory the moment you fill the medication. However, due to the drug classification, you may have to manually update it to ensure accuracy. Automation is a superb convenience, but it’s better to be safe than sorry in this case.

Another piece of analog advice is to write the updated quantity on the medication bottle itself. This will further ensure more accurate fills since you’ll have to count the updated quantity right then and there.

Freshen Up Your Disposal Methods

The purpose of medication storage is to utilize your independent pharmacy’s inventory to its fullest potential. Then we get to the end of the road — when medications outstay their welcome. It’s time to talk about medication disposal.

Pharmacies nationwide are required to have a hazardous waste disposal bin for lost or unidentified medications.

Your pharmacy software system likely has a drug identification feature so you can classify the rogue pill. If not, you can use the Pill Identifier app from for a short-term solution.

For the long term, you might want to think about converting to another pharmacy software system. Read our “Which Pharmacy Software Do Customers Stick With?” blog to learn more about what fellow independent pharmacists look for in their software.

Pill identifiers aside, make sure you are following state rules and regulations when disposing of your medications. These differ from how patients can dispose of their unused medications.

It is likely your independent pharmacy does not help dispose of patient medications. Direct them to the local fire department which usually handles these requests.

You can take that opportunity to connect with the fire department and other parts of your community. An independent pharmacy should be a snapshot of its community after all.


Your approach to medication storage and disposal should be fairly straightforward.

While independent pharmacies don’t have to jump through corporate hoops like their chain counterparts, they still have to adhere to certain medication storage and disposal guidelines — and rightfully so.

There’s a reason why the fill process is much more than just putting pills in a bottle. These medications can profoundly change your patient’s health, so it makes sense disposing of and storing them requires the same level of attention.

Make sure your medication storage and disposal methods contribute to your independent pharmacy’s efficiency, making your small business a cleaner and safer place.