Safe Disposal of Medications

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 are some disposal options and some special disposal instructions for you to consider when throwing out expired, unwanted, or unused medicines.

If no disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug labeling and no take-back program is available, throw the drugs in the household trash following these steps:

  1. Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers. 
  2. Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag. 
  3. Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds. 
  4. 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.
  5. The sealed container with the drug mixture, and the empty drug containers, can now be placed in the trash.
Helpful tips
  • Before throwing out a medicine container, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information. 
  • Do not give your medicine to friends. Doctors prescribe medicines based on a person's specific symptoms and medical history. A medicine that works for you could be dangerous for someone else.
  • When in doubt about proper disposal, talk to your pharmacist.