Medicines that are no longer used, needed, or expired should be discarded in a manner that protects your family, pets, community, and environment. Consumers were once told to flush old medicines down the toilet. However, recent studies show that medicines disposed in sewer and septic systems might later be found in very small amounts in the environment. So the rule of thumb today is: DO NOT FLUSH medicines. A few exceptions exist. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified thirteen prescription medicines that should be flushed. But no OTC medicines should be flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain.
To throw away your medicines safely, check for approved state and local collection alternatives such as community based household hazardous waste collection programs. Please understand that different regions and states have different ways of addressing this issue, so it is important to follow the laws that are in place in your part of the country for medication disposal. You can safely dispose of your unused and expired medications in your household trash. When discarding unused medications, ensure you protect children and pets from potentially negative effects:
- Pour the medicine into a sealable plastic bag. If the medication is a solid (pill, capsule, etc.), add water to dissolve it.
- Add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds (or any material that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for pets and children to eat) to the plastic bag.
- Seal the plastic bag and put it in the trash.
- Remove and destroy ALL identifying personal information from medication containers before recycling them or throwing them away.
Consult your pharmacist with any questions. For more information, visit: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know.