How to Safely Dispose of Medication
Unwanted, unused or expired medications can become a major safety issue due to accidental poisoning, misuse and overdose. They can also harm the environment if they aren’t properly disposed.
The best way to discard unwanted or expired medication is to use a drug take back program. But there are also ways to safely dispose of medications at home.
Use a Drug Take Back Location
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day provides a safe and convenient way for individuals to dispose of prescription drugs annually. Unused, unwanted or expired medications can be dropped off anonymously at collection sites across the country on April 24, 2021.
However, if you can’t participate in the upcoming Drug Take Back Day, authorized collectors provide drop-off locations year-round. You can also call the DEA Diversion Control Division Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539 for more information.
Other Ways to Dispose of Medications
If you can’t take advantage of a drug take back option, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following means of disposal:
- Flush medications. Check the label or the patient information leaflet with your medicine or consult the FDA’s flush list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing.
- Discard medicines in household trash. Almost all medicines (except those on the flush list) can be thrown into your household trash. These include prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the form of pills, liquids, drops, patches, creams, and inhalers.
If you plan to throw away medication, it’s important to follow these public safety steps to keep your community safe.
- Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This makes the medicine less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through the trash looking for drugs.
- Put the mixture in something you can close (a re-sealable zipper storage bag, empty can, or other container) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.
- Throw the container in the garbage.
- Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.