Did you know that there are safer ways of disposing of your expired or unneeded prescription medications than simply chucking it in the trash? This article will explore some methods recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
It's always wise to dispose of your unused or expired medication as quickly as possible to prevent children, animals, and other people from accidentally coming into contact with it.
Ways to Dispose of Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medications
Some prescription medications come with specific instructions on how to dispose of unwanted leftovers. You can also ask your pharmacy about proper disposal when you pick up your medicine.
Otherwise, official ways of disposing of medications include the following:
- The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) periodically holds National Prescription Drug Take Back Day events. Local law enforcement and waste disposal authorities may also hold take-back events in your local community.
- Permanent DEA-registered facilities can collect and dispose of your pharmaceuticals for you. Talk to your local pharmacy, hospital, or clinic.
- Some pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics also have mail-back programs or drop-off facilities for unused medicine.
How to Dispose of Medicine in Household Trash
If there are no take-back programs or qualified facilities available in your area, and your drug product did not come with specific directions, you may need to dispose of your medication in your household trash. However, before doing so, double-check if your drug belongs to the FDA flush list. If so, flush it down the toilet immediately because it can be especially dangerous to others.
The FDA has the following recommendations for household trash disposal:
- Mix the medication with something unpalatable, such as cat litter, dirt, or used coffee grounds. However, do not crush or break pills. Mixing the medicine with an unappealing substance will deter children and animals.
- Place this mixture inside a sealable container or bag.
- Dispose of the package in your household trash. Then, scratch out any personal information on your pill bottles or packaging before disposing of these as well.
The above directions can be used to dispose of over-the-counter non-prescription drugs as well when there are no other options available.
How to Dispose of Inhalers
Inhaler products, such as Advair Diskus (fluticasone and salmeterol) and Symbicort (budesonide and formoterol), can be dangerous if improperly disposed of or damaged. Check with any instructions that come with the product or consult with your pharmacist first.
How to Dispose of Fentanyl Patches
Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller that can be extremely dangerous in very small amounts. It often comes in adhesive patches designed to release medicine to the patient over time. Once the patient is done using it, the medicine may remain in the patch. That's why all fentanyl patches must be immediately flushed.
Doesn't flushing medicine harm the environment?
Good question! However, there are already trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in our water supply because our bodies often can't absorb and metabolize all the medicine we take. Thus, it gets into our water supply through urination or defecation. And according to research done by the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is little risk in flushing certain drugs down the toilet.
The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.