If your medicine cabinet contains expired prescription or over-the-counter medications, disposing of them properly is a concern for everyone. While some medications are safe to throw in the trash - others are not.
According to the FDA, some powerful medication labels instruct the medication to be flushed due to danger of unintentional use or overdose. This is the safest method of disposing controlled substances. Some medications can still be powerful even after the expiration date and you should always use caution when disposing of them.
The FDA advises that the following drugs be flushed down the toilet and not thrown in the trash:
- Actiq (fentanyl citrate)
- Daytrana Transdermal System (methyphenidate)
- Duragesic Transdermal System (fentanyl)
- OxyContin Tablets (oxycodone)
- Avinza Capsules (morphine sulfate)
- Baraclude Tablets (entecavir)
- Reyataz Capsules (atanavir sulfate)
- Tequin Tablets (gatifloxacin)
- Zerit for Oral Solution (stavudine)
- Meperidine HCI Tablets
- Percocet (Oxycodone and Acetaminophen)
- Xyrem (Sodium Oxybate)
- Fentora (fentanyl buccal tablet)
Although many people are concerned about flushing these medications because of the risk of contaminating the water supply, most drugs are not completely absorbed by the body and enter the environment after passing through waste water treatment plants according to an Environmental Assessment Expert in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. So, flushing these types of medications is still the safest way to dispose of them. For inhalers, depending on the type, most can be thrown in household trash.
You should always refer to the information that is packaged with your medication. Here are some guidelines to follow for any medication without disposal instructions whether expired or not.
Read the label for instructions.
- If there are no instructions for disposal of the medication, take it out of the original container, put into a zip lock bag with coffee grounds or something equally undesirable to deter children and pets from eating it and throw it in the trash.
- Contact your pharmacy to see if they have a program for disposing of unused medications.
- Before throwing away your medicine bottle, remove the label or scratch out your name and other private information.
- Do not give your medications to friends or family members. Everyone is different and anyone taking non-prescribed medication can have life-threatening consequences.
If you are unsure what to do with your old medications, please call your pharmacist for help.
For more information about the disposal of unused medications, please call Wooster Community Pharmacy at 330-202-5570.