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How can you safely get rid of old medicines?

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Check if your city or county has a medicine take-back program. These are programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Call your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service (see blue pages in phone book or go to your municipality's website) or check with your pharmacy to see if a take-back program is available in your community. While experts used to recommend flushing old medication down the toilet, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends against this because sewage plants may not be able to adequately remove drug ingredients from the water.

SOURCES: 

American Academy of Family Physicians: "How to Get the Most from Your Medicine."

Institute for Safe Medication Practices: "General Advice on Safe Medication Use."

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: "Tips to Help You Remember to Take Your High Blood Pressure Medicine."

Institute for Safe Medication Practices: “Throw Away Your Old Medicines Safely.”

Office of National Drug Control Policy: “Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs.”

FDA: “How to Dispose of Unused Medicines.”

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar on May 27, 2019

SOURCES: 

American Academy of Family Physicians: "How to Get the Most from Your Medicine."

Institute for Safe Medication Practices: "General Advice on Safe Medication Use."

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: "Tips to Help You Remember to Take Your High Blood Pressure Medicine."

Institute for Safe Medication Practices: “Throw Away Your Old Medicines Safely.”

Office of National Drug Control Policy: “Proper Disposal of Prescription Drugs.”

FDA: “How to Dispose of Unused Medicines.”

Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar on May 27, 2019

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When is it OK to flush away medications?

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    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.