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Unused Medications? Here's How to Destroy/Dispose of Them Safely

Many people don't know what to do when they find themselves with leftover medication. They may have forgotten to finish it, or maybe the doctor told them that they didn't need to take it anymore. Whatever the reason, there are many options for how you can dispose of your unused medications properly and safely. We'll go over which disposal methods are best for different types of medications so that you don't have any leftovers in your cabinets! Here are some tips from the FDA.

Flushing medicines: 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 a take-back option is not readily available. How will you know? Check the label or the patient information leaflet with your medicine. Or consult the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing when a take-back option is not readily available. Remember, don’t flush your medicine unless it is on the flush list.

Disposing medicines in household trash: If a take-back program is not available, almost all medicines, except those on the FDA flush list (see below), can be thrown into your household trash. These include prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in pills, liquids, drops, patches, and creams.

Follow these steps:

  • Remove the drugs from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This makes the medicine less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through the trash looking for drugs.

  • Put the mixture in something you can close (a re-sealable zipper storage bag, empty can, or other containers) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.

  • Throw the container in the garbage.

  • Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.

Disposing Fentanyl Patches

Designed for people with chronic pain, the fentanyl patch is an adhesive that delivers a powerful opioid through your skin. But what do you do when it’s time to dispose of one? You should flush it down the toilet so nobody else can get their hands on them!

Remember, always consult your doctor or pharmacist before getting rid of medication. It's important to make sure that doing so is safe for you and the environment! Unused drugs can be harmful to the environment because they can contaminate the ground and water. At Advanced Physical Medicine, our experienced physicians are here to help you live a pain-free life as safely as possible. Contact us today to learn more about our services.


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Jul 28, 2022

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