How to Properly Dispose Unused Medicines
Unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter medicines are a public safety issue, leading to potential accidental poisoning, misuse, and overdose. How many of them are hiding right in your home? They could be tucked away in a medicine chest, a kitchen cabinet, a bedroom drawer, or even your purse. And sound the alarm – these meds could spell danger to innocent children, people, and pets!
Every year, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) sponsors a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The goal is to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of unused prescription drugs, as well as educate the public about the potential abuse of medications.
How to safely dispose of medicines before they can do harm?
Option 1: Go to a Drug Take-Back Location
The best option is to find a drug take-back location. This could be retail, hospital, or clinical pharmacies, as well as police stations. These take-back locations may offer on-site medicine drop-off boxes, mail-back programs, or in-home disposal products. To search for a take-back location near you, visit the DEA’s web page at www.dea.gov/takebackday. Then simply enter your zip code.
Option 2: Check the FDA’s Flush List
If there’s no drug take-back location near you, then check to see if your medicine is on the FDA’s Flush List. Medicines on the flush list are commonly abused and can result in death from just one dose if taken inappropriately. No surprise, many of these drugs contain opioids. It’s important to flush these powerful and dangerous drugs so they’re not accidentally or intentionally swallowed, touched, or misused.
Here’s where to find the flush list: www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-fdas-flush-list-certain-medicines. And remember, don’t flush your medicine unless it is on the flush list.
Option 3: Throw Drugs in the Household Trash
If you don’t have a drug take-back location nearby and your medicine is not on the flush list, you can dispose of it in the trash. The FDA recommends mixing all trash-bound medicines with an unappealing substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds. Don’t crush pills. Place the mixture in a sealed plastic bag before throwing it away. And be sure to scratch out any personal information from the prescription label on the empty packaging.
For complete details and instructions on safe medicine disposal, please visit www.FDA.Gov/DrugDisposal.