How to Dispose of Unused Medicines

Drugs

One of the common questions and concerns we run into as both physicians and patients is what to do with our leftover medications?

Most people are unaware that there are certain steps you should take when disposing of your leftover medication, and that improperly getting rid of your medications can have a negative effect on others and the environment.

Drug Disposal Guidelines and Locations:

The following guidelines were developed to encourage the proper disposal of medicines and help reduce harm from accidental exposure or intentional misuse after they are no longer needed:

Follow any specific disposal instructions on the prescription drug labeling or patient information that accompanies the medicine. Do not flush medicines down the sink or toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.

Take advantage of programs that allow the public to take unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. You can actually bring your leftover medications to the office where we can dispose of them with other medical waste.

If no disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug labeling and no take-back program is available in your area, throw the drugs in the household trash following these steps:

Remove them from their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds, dirt or kitty litter (this makes the drug less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through the trash seeking drugs).
Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can or other container to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.

Scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.
Do not give your medicine to friends. Doctors prescribe medicines based on your specific symptoms and medical history. Something that works for you could be dangerous for someone else.

When in doubt about proper disposal, ask your pharmacist.

For any other questions please feel free to ask us or visit these websites for more information:

http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/

http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm101653.htm