Three dangers your community might be faced with if medicines are not disposed (thrown away) of correctly
Medicines play an important role in treating many conditions and diseases, but when they are no longer needed it’s important to dispose of them properly to avoid harm to others. [ Below, we list some disposal options and some special disposal instructions for you to consider when throwing out expired, unwanted, or unused medicines.
Medicine Take-Back Programs
Medicine take-back programs
for disposal are a good way to remove expired, unwanted, or unused medicines from the home and reduce the chance that others may accidentally take the medicine. Contact your city or county government's household trash and recycling service to see if there is a medicine take-back program in your community and learn about any special rules regarding which medicines can be taken back. You can also talk to your pharmacist to see if he or she knows of other medicine disposal programs in your area or visit the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s website for information on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Events.
Disposal in Household Trash
If no medicine take-back program is available in your area, you can also follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the household trash:1
Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds;
Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and
Throw the container in your household trash.
Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.
Flushing of Certain Medicines
There is a small number of medicines that may be especially harmful and, in some cases, fatal with just one dose if they are used by someone other than the person for whom the medicine was prescribed. To prevent accidental ingestion by children, pets, or anyone else, a few medicines have specific disposal instructions indicating they should be flushed down the sink or toilet as soon as they are no longer needed, and when they cannot be disposed of through a medicine take-back program. ]
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