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How to Safely Dispose of Unused Medications

Friday, November 17, 2017By Nina Shapirshteyn

If you’re like most people, you probably have prescription medication in your medicine cabinet that you haven’t finished. Leaving that medicine in your cabinet, even after it’s expired, is not a good practice as it could cause harm through accidental exposure or intentional misuse. But how to dispose of that medication? Conventional wisdom says to just flush that extra, unused medication down the toilet. But that’s not the best way to dispose of a lot of types of medication as it can have an adverse effect on the environment but putting trace amounts of dangerous chemicals into the water supply.

Most communities offer a drug “take-back” program where you can turn in any unused prescription medication and it will be disposed of safely. Visit the DEA’s website or call 1-800-882-9539 for information and locations. If you are in a community that does not offer a take-back program, and the drug label does not give directions for disposal, you can dispose of most medications by throwing them in the trash, assuming you follow these steps:

  • Take the medication out of its original container and mix it with something undesirable like used coffee grounds, kitty litter, or dirt to make the drugs less appealing to children and pets.
  • Once mixed, place in a sealable container or can to prevent leakage.
  • To protect your privacy and identity, scratch out any identifying information from the medicine bottle labels.
  • Throw the empty medicine container and the sealed medicine separately into your household trash.
  • If you’re unsure about how to properly dispose of medication, ask your pharmacist.

Flushable Medications

Some medications have specific directions on the label for flushing down the toilet to dispose of unused medication. Usually this is for medications that contain heavy narcotics or pain relievers that are extremely toxic to children or animals if ingested. These medications are considered to be so dangerous that it is better to flush any unused portions rather than risk leaving them in your house or throwing them in the trash. The Food and Drug Administration provides a constantly updated list of medications that are recommended for flushing.

Disposing of Inhalers

Disposing of inhaler used for asthma or breathing issues can also present challenges to disposal. Exercise extreme caution when disposing of these types of products as any puncturing or exposure to fire can be dangerous. Contact your local trash and recycling facility to ask for the best way to dispose of inhalers.

Taking these precautions can help to ensure that your family never suffers a preventable tragedy in your home. Yet sometimes accidents occur as a result of the negligence of others. If you or a loved one were injured by someone else’s negligence, Alexander Law Group, LLC can help. Call us now at 888.777.1776 or click here for a private, no cost consultation regarding your rights.

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