Medication Disposal

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When your loved one passes away there are many things to take care of. One issue that may not cross your mind is disposal of all medications he/she was taking. It is important that you properly dispose of all medicines to reduce the chances of intentional or accidental ingestion from other family members, guests or pets. Below are a few options:

  1. Many cities have medication disposal services available through police or fire stations. Look on your city’s website or call the local number for your police department to ask them if they have this free service available. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) periodically hosts National Prescription Drug Take-Back events where collection sites are set up for safe disposal of prescription drugs. Your trash disposal company may have medication disposal options for you also. Please call them directly.
  2. If there is no medication disposal service available to you from your city, you can dispose of medications in the trash. The DEA has listed these steps for proper trash disposal:
    • Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds;
    • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag
    • Throw the container in your household trash;
    • Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of the container.
  3.  There are some medicines that can be flushed down the toilet. The DEA only advises this be done for a small amount of medicines that have a high risk of causing harm or death if ingested therefore you need to dispose of them quickly. Only do this if there is no take back/collection program available in your community.

For more detailed information, including a list of medicines that should be disposed of immediately, please go to:  FDAMedicationDisposal

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