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.
Disposal in Household Trash
If no medicine take-back program is available in your area, consumers 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
Flushing of Certain Medicines
There is a small number of medicines that may be especially harmful and, in some cases, fatal in a single dose if they are used by someone other than the person the medicine was prescribed for. List of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing. For this reason, a few medicines have specific disposal instructions that indicate they should be flushed down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed and when they cannot be disposed of through a drug take-back program. When you dispose of these medicines down the sink or toilet, they cannot be accidently used by children, pets, or anyone else.
You may have also received disposal directions for these medicines when you picked up your prescription. If your medicine is on this list, and you did not receive information containing disposal instructions along with your dispensed prescription, you can find instructions on how to dispose of the medicines at DailyMed1, by searching on the drug name, and then looking in one of the following sections of the prescribing information:
- Information for Patients and Caregivers
- Patient Information
- Patient Counseling Information
- Safety and Handling Instructions
- Medication Guide
FDA remains committed to working with other Federal agencies and medicine manufacturers to develop alternative, safe disposal policies. Below is some additional information about flushing medicine that is no longer needed. If you have additional questions about disposing of your medicine, please contact us at 1-888-INFO-FDA (1-888-463-6332).
Disposal of syringes, needles and lancets
Do not through syringes, needles, or Lancets into trash. Sharps should be disposed into a puncture-proof plastic container specially designed to hold used needles and syringes. Once the container is full, you should take it to a local hospital, vet's office, pharmacy, or fire stationfor proper disposal. Never throw the container in garbage. General rules for Safely using a sharps container: Dont cut or break needles. Do not recap needles. Drop the used lancets and syringes with the needle pointing downward into the container. keep sharps containers out of reach of childern and pet. when the containers 3/4 full, tightly seal the lid with heavy tape. dont put the sharps container into recycling bins.