Proper Medication Disposal

When your medicines are no longer needed, they should be disposed of promptly. Medications should be removed as quickly as possible to reduce the chance that others accidentally take or intentionally misuse the unneeded medicine, and to help reduce drugs from entering the environment. We’ve listed some options and special instructions for you to consider when disposing of unused, unwanted, or expired medicines.

Always read the instructions on your pet medications labels before disposing of them. 


1 – Medication take-back options

Medicine take-back options are the preferred way to safely dispose of most types of unwanted medicines. There are generally two kinds of take-back options: periodic events and permanent collection sites.

Click here to find a Drug Take-Back Program near you.

  • Permanent collection sites safely and securely collect and dispose of pharmaceuticals containing controlled substances and other medicines. These sites can be located in pharmacies, hospitals, and law enforcement facilities. Some locations may offer mail-back prgrams or “drop-boxes”.
  • Periodic events – TheDEAperiodically hosts a National Prescription Drug Take-Back event where temporary collection sites are set up in communities nationwide for safe disposal of prescription drugs.
    • Local law enforcement agencies may also sponsor medicine take-back events in your community. Consumers can also contact their local waste management authorities to learn about events in their area.

Links for more information about drug disposal.


2 – Disposal in household trash

Almost all medicines can be thrown into your household trash. These include prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in pills, liquids, drops, patches, creams, and inhalers.


3 – Flushing potentially dangerous medications

Because some medicines could be especially harmful to others, they have specific directions to immediately flush them down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed and take-back options are not readily available.

How will you know?

Click here to see the List of medications recommended for disposal by flushing

This list from FDA tells you which medicines you should flush when they are no longer needed and take-back options are not readily available.  Links in this list direct you to medicine information for consumers that includes specific disposal instructions.