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How to Dispose of Medicines Properly
Flush expired or unwanted prescription and
over-the-counter drugs down the toilet or drain unless
the label or accompanying patient information
specifically instructs you to do so.
Return unwanted or expired prescription and
over-the-counter drugs to a drug take-back program or
follow the steps for household dis-posal below.
DRUG TAKE-BACK EVENTS
To dispose of prescription and over-the-counter drugs,
call your city or county governmentís household trash
and recycling service and ask if a drug take-back
program is available in your community.
hold household hazardous waste collection days, where
prescription and over-the-counter drugs are accepted at
a central location for proper disposal.
HOUSEHOLD DISPOSAL STEPS*
Take your prescription drugs out
of their original containers.
Mix drugs with an undesirable
substance, such as cat litter or used coffee
Put the mixture into a
disposable container with a lid, such as an empty
margarine tub, or into a
Conceal or remove any personal
information, including Rx number, on the empty
containers by covering it with permanent marker or
duct tape, or by scratching it off.
The sealed container with the
drug mixture, and the empty drug containers, can now
be placed in the trash.
How Proper Disposal of Medicines
Protects You and the Earth:
Prevents poisoning of children
Deters misuse by teenagers and
Avoids health problems from
accidentally taking the wrong medicine, too much of
the same medicine, or a medicine that is too old to
Keeps medicines from entering
streams and rivers when poured down the drain or
flushed down the toilet
How Improper Disposal of Medicines
May End Up
in our Drinking Water Sources
In homes that use septic tanks,
prescription and over-the-counter drugs flushed down the
toilet can leach into the ground and seep into ground
In cities and towns where residences
are connected to wastewater treatment plants,
prescription and over-the-counter drugs poured down the
sink or flushed down the toilet can pass through the
treatment system and enter rivers and lakes. They may
flow downstream to serve as sources for community
drink-ing water supplies. Water treatment plants are
generally not equipped to routinely remove medicines.
* Drug Disposal Guidelines, Office of
National Drug Control Policy, October 2009