How to Properly Dispose of Unused Medicines

How to Properly Dispose of Unused Medicines
How to Properly Dispose of Unused Medicines

It's time to clean the house if your medicine cabinet is stocked with unused or expired prescription drugs. Medicines may become less effective with time. The method of disposal you select may directly impact environmental safety and health. To properly dispose of unused medicines, including tablets, syringes, and inhalers, there are rules set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

How Medicines Can Enter Our Environment

Although this may be the first thing that comes to mind, there are other ways that drugs might enter the environment besides being flushed down the toilet or down the sink drain. Pharmaceuticals can infiltrate the environment through medications we take, treatments provided to animals as feedstocks (such as antibiotics), and trash from the production process.

Despite the fact that there are other methods for medications to enter the environment, it is crucial to properly dispose of expired or unwanted medicines in order to protect the environment.

How Improper Disposal of Medicines may Lead to Polluting of Our Water Supplies?

Prescription and over-the-counter medications flushed down the toilet in homes with septic tanks can soak into the ground and leach into the water cycle.

Prescription and over-the-counter medications that are flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink in towns and cities with wastewater treatment facilities may make it through the treatment process and end up in rivers and lakes. They might go downstream and act as a supply of local drinking water. Typically, water treatment plants are not set up to regularly remove medications.

How Proper Medication Disposal Safeguards Both You and the Earth?

  • Protects children and pets from being poisoned
  • Prevents adult and teen misuse
  • Stops health issues from unintentionally taking the incorrect medication, excessive amounts of the same medication, or a medication that is too old to be effective.
  • Prohibits the flushing or pouring of medications down the drain or into rivers and streams.

How to Correctly Dispose of Unused Medicines

Unwanted or Expired Medication

For prescription or over-the-counter medications, follow any disposal instructions provided. If the box contains no particular directions, see if any of the following alternatives would be effective:

  • Making use of a drug take-back location: A DEA-registered drug collection location is the ideal place to bring most forms of unwanted medication for disposal. It is safely disposed of there by trained handlers. Through online searches or the DEA website, anyone can find the closest drop-off location. Drop-off locations to get rid of:
    • prescription medicines
    • over-the-counter medications
    • dietary supplements

Before dropping off medications, it's a good idea to remove any personal information, like name and address labels.

  • Flushing medicines: Some medications contain specific instructions to be flushed down the toilet or sink as soon as they are no longer needed because they could be particularly damaging to others, and a take-back alternative is not always easily available. The FDA advises flushing away methylphenidate transdermal system patches, diazepam rectal gel, and drugs containing the following words in their names right away:
    • benzhydrocodone
    • buprenorphine
    • fentanyl
    • hydrocodone
    • hydromorphone
    • meperidine
    • methadone
    • morphine
    • oxycodone
    • oxymorphone
    • sodium oxybate
    • tapentadol
  • Putting unused medications in household trash: Almost all medications, with the exception of those on the FDA flush list, can be disposed of in your home trash if a take-back program is not available. Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications in the form of pills, liquids, drops, patches, and lotions are among them. Follow these steps for trashing:
    • Take the medications out of their original packaging and combine them with something unwanted, like dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds. This makes the medication unrecognizable to anyone who might purposefully search the trash for drugs, as well as less tempting to kids and dogs.
    • To stop the medication from leaking or spilling out, place the combination in a container that you can seal (a resealable zipper storage bag, an empty can, or another container).
    • Dispose of the container in the trash.
    • To safeguard your identity and privacy, scratch off all of your personal information from the empty medication packaging. Throw away the package.

Needles and syringes

Syringes and needles should be disposed of properly to avoid cutting or puncturing others. People can get dispose of used needles and syringes at home by:

  • immediately putting them in a sharp disposal container
  • keep the container out of the reach of children and animals.
  • carrying a travel-sized container if traveling
  • examining the Transportation Security if traveling by plane
  • Administration's website to get the most current rules

Inhaler products

Inhalers can be harmful if they are burned, punctured, or thrown into an incinerator. To learn how to properly dispose of inhalers and any aerosol goods, get in contact with your local trash or recycling center.

Final Word

To avoid unintentional intake by humans or animals, it is essential to properly dispose of unused medicines. Drugs thrown out can be harmful to both people and the environment. Especially at risk of taking these medications are children and animals. If people utilize medications improperly or accidentally take them, they can be dangerous and even deadly.