What Is The Best Way To Dispose Of Prescription Medications?
Is your medicine cabinet filled with expired drugs or medications you no longer use? How should you dispose of them? Most drugs can be thrown in the household trash, but consumers should take certain precautions before tossing them out, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A few drugs should be flushed down the toilet. And a growing number of community-based take-back programs offer another safe disposal alternative.
Guidelines for Drug Disposal
The FDA worked with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to develop the first consumer guidance for proper disposal of prescription drugs. Issued by ONDCP in February 2007 and updated in October 2009, the federal guidelines are summarized here:
- Follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug label or patient information that accompanies the medication. Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.
- Take advantage of community drug take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Call your city or county government’s house-hold trash and recycling service (see blue pages in phone book) to see if a take-back program is available in your community. The Drug Enforcement Administration, working with state and local law enforcement agencies, is sponsoring National Prescription Drug Take Back Days throughout the United States.
- Dispose of unwanted medicines in the trash, mixed with coffee grounds or kitty litter—in some way as not to be recognizable, useable, or appealing to children or pets.
- It is ok to put medication mix in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent leaks or breaks out of the garbage bag.
- Before throwing out a medicine container, it is advisable to scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect identity and privacy of personal health information.