Disposal of Unused Medications

This information explains how to dispose your unused medications.

Most unused medications cannot be flushed down the drain or toilet. They damage our water supply and can harm wildlife.

The best way to dispose of your unused medications is to bring them to a scheduled drug collection event. If the medication is a controlled substance, such as oxycodone hydrochloride (Oxycontin®), check to see if the event is authorized to collect it, as not all events are. You can find out about collection events from:

  • Your local pharmacy
  • Your local recycling coordinator
  • Your municipality

If there are no collection events available in your area, or if you want to dispose of your medications as soon as possible, please follow these steps:

  1. Remove the medications from their prescription drug containers.
  2. Cross out your name on prescription drug containers.
  3. Mix the medications with a substance such as coffee grounds, dirt, or kitty litter. Do not hide unused medications in food.
  4. Place this mixture in a plastic bag or nonrecyclable container and seal the bag or container with strong tape.
  5. Place the bag or container in the trash as close to the day of pickup as possible.

Medications That Must Be Flushed

There are certain medications that can be especially harmful or fatal with just 1 dose if they are used by someone other than the person for whom they were prescribed. The best way of getting rid of these medications is by flushing them down the toilet. If your doctor prescribed a fentanyl (Duragesic®) patch, you must flush it down the toilet when you are done using it. Flush any unused fentanyl patches down the toilet as well.

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