How to Safely Dispose of Unused or Expired Medications

Proper disposal of unused or expired medications is crucial for preventing drug misuse and ensuring both personal and environmental safety. Here are some tips to help you dispose of these medications correctly.

Take-Back Programs

  • Participate in Drug Take-Back events organized by law enforcement agencies. These events provide a safe and responsible way to dispose of prescription medications.
  • Many pharmacies, hospitals, and community centers offer ongoing collection bins or mail-back programs for medication disposal.

Pharmacy Disposal Services

Check with your local pharmacy to see if they offer medication take-back services.

Disposal in Household Trash

If no other options are available:

  1. Combine medications (without crushing tablets or capsules) with materials such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds.
  2. Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag or container to prevent leaks.
  3. Remove/Scratch off all personal information from medication packaging to protect your privacy.
  4. Throw the sealed container into your household trash.

Flushing Certain Medications

Most medications shouldn’t be flushed as they can pollute water supplies. Some medications have specific disposal instructions that recommend flushing them down the sink or toilet to reduce the risk of accidental ingestion or misuse. Check the FDA’s flush list for these medications. Additionally, burning medications can release harmful chemicals into the air.

Special Instructions for Specific Types of Medications

  • Inhalers: Check with your local trash or recycling center for safe disposal methods, as inhalers can be dangerous if punctured or exposed to high heat.
  • Patches: Fold patches so the sticky sides are together. Flush them down the toilet only if instructed; otherwise, dispose of them in your household trash.
  • Sharps: Place needles and other sharp objects in special sharps disposal containers and follow local rules for disposal.

Educate Others

Sharing information about the importance of proper medication disposal with family, friends, and community members helps prevent mishaps and promote safety.

Consult Resources

MedPhysicals Laboratory Testing

If you’ve consumed expired drugs or misused medications, consider getting one of our health tests. At MedPhysicals Plus, we offer a wide range of FDA-approved laboratory tests. Our process is quick, discreet, and confidential, ensuring you feel comfortable and supported throughout. Visit our Laboratory Testing page or call us at (907) 561-7587 to learn more and schedule your test.

Employer safety tip: P.S. Include proper medication disposal as part of your company’s overall safety and health policies. Ensure that it is addressed during onboarding and regular safety meetings.