| Wed, Apr 22, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

3 Ways to Dispose of Your Old, Unused Medications Safely

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

medicationMany older adults take medications to treat various health conditions like pain, diabetes, heart disease, or infection. Some of the medications may go unused and sit around the house for months or years on end.  This can be a hazard for children, other adults or even pets because the medicine may be accidentally eaten.

It’s important to dispose of all unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications as soon as you no longer need them. There are a variety of ways to do this, such as:

Medication Take-Back Programs

Many communities offer residents a place to drop off unused drugs for proper disposal. Be aware that some take-back programs are not equipped to accept narcotic pain medications or other controlled substances. Contact your local city or county government’s household trash and recycling service to find out if there is a drug take-back program in your area. Ask what drugs will be accepted at your drop off location. You can also ask your pharmacist if they are aware of other medicine disposal programs in your area.

Household Trash

If you don’t have access to a drug take-back program, another way to get rid of unused drugs is to dispose of them in the household trash. Since drugs thrown in the trash could end up in the wrong hands, it’s important to mix tablets or pills (not crushed) with something inedible like kitty litter or used coffee grounds. Wrap the mixture in a plastic bag and throw away in the trash. Also, scratch out all information on your pill bottles before throwing the empty bottle in the trash.

Flushing Certain Drugs Down the Toilet or Drain

Accidental exposure to dangerous drugs like narcotic pain pills and patches or other controlled substances could be especially harmful or deadly. It’s important to get these types of drugs out of the home when they’re no longer needed. If a drug take-back program is not available, it may be best to flush them down the toilet or drain. Click here for a list from the FDA telling you which drugs should be flushed down the toilet or sink.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


How to Dispose of Unused Medicines: Food and Drug Administration (FDA.gov)

Medicare.gov: Visit the official U.S. government site for Medicare.

Disposal of Unused Medicines: In-depth video of how to dispose of unused medication, safely and responsibly. Food and Drug Administration (FDS.gov)



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