How Should Outdated Medications Be Disposed Of?


Quick Answer

Outdated medicines can be disposed of through medicine take-back programs or by discarding them in the household garbage after mixing with inedible substances and sealing in a plastic bag, states the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Certain expired medications can also be flushed down the toilet or the sink,

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Medicine take-back programs are available through local government agencies, pharmacies or doctors' clinics in many communities, reports MedicineNet. Outdated medicines can be placed in the medicine receptacles placed at these facilities. Normally, such facilities have some specific rules regarding which out-of-date drugs are acceptable.

If the medicine take-back programs do not accept a particular expired medicine, it can be discarded along with the household garbage, explains the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Before discarding, medications should be mixed with inedible substances such as pet litter, then sealed in a plastic bag. To prevent misuse, the prescription label should also be rendered illegible.

A few medicines such as the fentanyl patches can also be flushed down the toilet or sink, provided their labels carry specific instructions for disposal, explains MedicineNet. Flushing medications, unless otherwise specified, should be used as the last disposal option, as it contaminates groundwater and other water sources used for drinking and agriculture purposes.

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