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What medications can I throw out?

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Most drugs can be disposed of with your household garbage. (There are some meds you should flush -- search the FDA's website for "disposal of used medications" to find out which ones.) When throwing away medications in the trash, follow these medication disposal guidelines:

  • Remove drugs from their original containers and remove or scratch out identifying information from container labels.
  • Do NOT crush pills or capsules.
  • Mix medications with kitty litter, saw dust, coffee grounds, or another substance that will absorb them and make them undesirable.
  • Put drug mixture into a sealable plastic bag or bottle with a screw-on lid and place in trash.

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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How do you safely dispose of unused medication?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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

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