How Do You Properly Dispose of Prescription Drugs?


Quick Answer

To dispose of unused or expired prescription medications properly, find out about prescription drug take-back programs hosted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement agencies, and visit nearby waste management organizations to learn about particular medicine disposal processes, recommends the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Alternatively, send the medications to collectors, such as hospital, clinic and retail pharmacies, that are authorized by the DEA.

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Full Answer

Authorized collectors sometimes provide drop boxes to people who want to discard medications, notes the FDA. Check the Drug Disposal Information page on the DEA's official site to find information about proper drug disposal and take-back programs. Use the site to find nearby DEA-authorized collectors.

If there are no prescription drug take-back events or collectors in your location, discard medications by combining the drugs with dirt, used coffee grounds, cat litter or other similar substances, suggests the FDA. Avoid crushing tablets and capsules. Use a sealed plastic bag as a container for the mixture, and throw away the plastic bag in the household trash.

Scrape off any personal details on prescription labels of empty medicine bottles or packaging before throwing them away, recommends the FDA. Some medications that are dangerous at only one dose must be flushed to avoid inadvertent intake by children, pets and other household members. The FDA website provides a list of medicines that require disposal by flushing.

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