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Medications > How to Safely Dispose of Medications

How to Safely Dispose of Medications

A few small steps can make an important difference in safeguarding lives and protecting the environment.

Follow your medication prescriber’s instructions and use all medications as instructed. If you do not use all of your prescribed or over-the-counter medication, you can take a few small steps to make a huge impact in safeguarding lives and protecting the environment by disposing of unused medicines properly:
 
  1. DO NOT FLUSH unused medications and DO NOT POUR them down a sink or drain. *
  2. Be Proactive and Dispose of Unused Medication In Household Trash. When discarding unused medications, ensure you protect children and pets from potentially negative effects:
    • Pour medication into a sealable plastic bag. If medication is a solid (pill, liquid capsule, etc.), add water to dissolve it.
    • Add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds (or any material that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for pets and children to eat) to the plastic bag.
    • Seal the plastic bag and put it in the trash.
    • Remove and destroy ALL identifying personal information (prescription label) from all medication containers before recycling them or throwing them away.
  3. Check for Approved State and Local Collection Programs. Another option is to check for approved state and local collection alternatives such as community based household hazardous waste collection programs. In certain states, you may be able to take your unused medications to your community pharmacy or other location for disposal.
  4. Consult your pharmacist with any questions.

*Note: The FDA recommends Disposal by Flushing of a small number of medications. Click here to view a current list of medications.

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