How to Discard Expired Medication
Expired pills, liquids, patches and other products you may have used for treating arthritis and related conditions can be dangerous if they get into the wrong hands. Follow this disposal guide to protect your family, pets and the environment from medicine you no longer use.
Tips for Discarding Medication
Follow directions. Check the drug label or patient information that accompanied your prescription and follow any special instructions given.
Call your trash pick-up or recycling program. Your trash collection service or local recycling center can let you know about safe-disposal regulations and guidelines for your area. This is particularly important if you are disposing of inhalers, which can be dangerous if punctured or burned.
Check with the DEA. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registers hospitals, pharmacies and law enforcement locations in some areas to collect unused medications and to conduct drug take-back day events. To find out if there is an authorized collector in your community call the DEA 1-800-882-9539 or visit their website.
Know what to flush. Certain unused drugs, including narcotic pain relievers and other controlled substances, are best disposed of quickly – down the toilet. Flushing reduces the risk of overdose, abuse or potentially deadly ingestion by a child or household pet. Check the FDA website for a full list of drugs the FDA recommends flushing.
Prepare for the trash. If the drug label has no disposal instructions and there are no take-back programs in your area, dispose of unused medications with your household trash. Follow these steps for disposing of drugs in the trash:
- First remove any identifying information from the medicine container and dispose of it.
- Next, put medicine into a sealable plastic bag (if the medication is a pill or capsule, dissolve it in a bit of water first.)
- Then, add kitty litter or used coffee grounds to the bag before tossing it in the household trash. The granules will absorb any liquid, make it less attractive to pets and small children and less recognizable to people searching your trash for drugs.
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