Disposing of Medications the Safe Way

Many homes end up with unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications. Old prescriptions left in medicine cabinets or elsewhere in the home can often be an easy source for those who would like to abuse prescription medications.

Unneeded medicine may also cause confusion for people who are already taking a large number of medications. Furthermore, some medications, including fentanyl patches, should be properly disposed of by flushing to prevent accidental ingestion by children and pets.

Many states have year-round/permanent drug take-back programs, utilizing on-site drug disposal boxes or mail-back programs, or local medication take-back events that are held at temporary sites at different times through the year. The take-back programs are often facilitated by police departments, municipal buildings, or pharmacies.

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Looking for a Permanent Drug Disposal Site?

Want to add a disposal site to our list? Please fill in all of the columns on this pre-formatted Excel spreadsheet and send it as an attachment to info@AWARErx.pharmacy. Thank you for your efforts to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse!

For information on setting up permanent drug disposal boxes at pharmacies, long-term care facilities, or law enforcement locations see to the Pharmacist Resources section.

Disposing of Medication At Home

If a drug disposal site or mail-back program is not available in your area, it is best to follow Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for the safe disposal of unused or unwanted medications at home; including when to flush medication and patches. We recommend printing this disposal flyer to keep on hand for reference or spread the word in your community.

At a Glance

  1. Check the label on your medication and follow any instructions for safe disposal provided.
  2. Do not flush the drugs down the toilet unless the label says to flush them. The list of drugs that should be flushed is available on the FDA website.
  3. If there are no disposal instructions on the label, check with your local government to find out if specific disposal methods are required by law. If not, take them out of the container and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or cat litter. Next, seal the mixture in a sealable bag, can, or container and place the container in the garbage.
  4. If disposing of sharps, please refer to the disposal flyer above or contact your state board of pharmacy.

Additional Disposal Regulation Resources:

  • Your state board of pharmacy – State laws for medication disposal should be followed if they are stricter than federal guidelines.
  • Your pharmacist
  • Your local waste management authority – as encouraged by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)