August 01, 2020

Medication disposal

While rummaging through your medicine cabinet, you notice that a couple of medications are expired. What should you do with them? To correctly dispose of unnecessary or expired medication, follow these recommendations:

  • First, look for local drug takeback sites, events or receptacles. These are usually the preferred ways to get rid of unwanted drugs. To find these programs, search on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website or call 800-882-9539. You can also ask your local pharmacy, law enforcement office or hazardous waste facility. In addition, several brands of drug deactivation bags are available that chemically destroy drugs in a disposable bag.
  • If there isn't an accessible local takeback option, check to see if the drug is on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) flush list. This can be found on the FDA website or in the medication information. Some municipalities instruct residents not to flush medication. Where it's OK, flushing drugs down the toilet or sink is reserved for medicines that could be dangerous if taken by someone for whom they are not intended, such as kids or animals.

If flushing isn't necessary, the FDA recommends disposing of the drug using these steps:

  • Put the medication in a leakfree, disposable container such as a sealable plastic bag.
  • Add something to keep people and animals out, such as dirt, cat litter or used coffee grounds.
  • Remove or...