How Do We Dispose of Unused and Expired Prescription Drugs?

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National Drug Takeback

Many of us have prescription medicines that are unused, expired and potentially dangerous to our loved ones. Whether it be a half-used bottle of oxycodone prescribed after surgery, or a group of filled prescription bottles sitting on the kitchen table of a deceased parent; it can be confusing on how to dispose of them. Most people that misuse drugs get them from family and friends’ medicine cabinets. It is important to keep prescription drugs stored in a safe place and dispose of those that are unused, expired or no longer needed to keep those we love safe.

 This blog post is to help make things simple…here is what you can do and why the other options need to be avoided.

What is the BEST way to dispose of unused prescription drugs?

  1. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day: April 30, 2022. The last collection was in October 2021 and 372 tons of medications were collected nationwide!! Check out the link below.

      National Prescription Drug Take Back Day | Get Smart About Drugs

  • Most local pharmacies dispose of prescription drugs any time. Click on this link to see which surrounding pharmacies you could use. Or simply give them a call and ask!

Controlled Substance Public Disposal Locations – Search Utility (

What is the BETTER way to dispose of unused prescription drugs?

  1. See if the prescription is on the “Flush List” by checking the prescription bottle. If it is, the prescription can be flushed down the toilet. If the prescription is not on this list, do not flush; it could potentially contaminate aquatic wildlife.
  • If a pharmacy is not convenient, fill a sealable plastic bag full of an undesirable substance like kitty litter. Pour the contents of the prescription bottles into the baggie, seal it, and throw it away in the trash. As for the prescription bottles, mark out or tear off any information regarding the prescription or personal identification and throw away separately.

Click on this link for further information:

Where and How to Dispose of Unused Medicines | FDA

What is the WORST way to deal with unused prescription drugs?

  1. The worst thing you can do is to keep prescription drugs your medicine cabinet or within reach of children. This could contribute to misuse from a visitor or family member, or accidental poisoning of a child.
  • Do not keep unused prescriptions around in case a friend or family member may need them. There could be adverse health reactions.

We hope this clarifies what to do with unused prescription drugs. Please take advantage of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 30, 2022.  Let’s see if we can beat the last amount collected!