Proper prescription drug disposal

Still confused about what to do with your unused prescriptions? Experts recommend different disposal methods for different meds, depending on their danger to humans or pets in the household.

The best option: Find a drug take-back program in your area. Start by contacting the trash and recycling program of your city or county government, or find local listings on the website of The Drug Take-Back Network.

If no take-back program exists in your area, the FDA recommends the following disposal method for most medications (see below for medications that should be flushed instead).

Most common disposal procedure

  • Remove drugs from original container. Conceal or remove personal information, including Rx number, from container.
  • Mix drugs with a substance such as cat litter or coffee grounds.
  • Place mixture in a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub or a resealable plastic bag. Dispose in trash along with empty containers.

When to flush
According to the FDA, it’s more important to ensure that potent narcotics (e.g. painkillers) stay out of reach of people and pets. For this reason, the FDA advises flushing the following medications:

Medicine
Actiq, oral transmucosal lozenge *
Avinza, capsules (extended release)
Daytrana, transdermal patch system
Demerol, tablets *
Demerol, oral solution *
Diastat/Diastat AcuDial, rectal gel
Dilaudid, tablets *
Dilaudid, oral liquid *
Dolophine Hydrochloride, tablets *
Duragesic, patch (extended release) *
Embeda, capsules (extended release)
Exalgo, tablets (extended release)
Fentora, tablets (buccal)
Kadian, capsules (extended release)
Methadone Hydrochloride, oral solution *
Methadose, tablets *
Morphine Sulfate, tablets (immediate release) *
Morphine Sulfate, oral solution *
MS Contin, tablets (extended release) *
Onsolis, soluble film (buccal)
Opana, tablets (immediate release)
Opana ER, tablets (extended release)
Oramorph SR, tablets (sustained release)
Oxycontin, tablets (extended release) *
Percocet, tablets *
Percodan, tablets *
Xyrem, oral solution

Consider reducing your excess medications
While bulk discounts may seem attractive, make sure that you’re actually going to use all that medication you’re purchasing. The less we waste, the cleaner our waters.

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