How to Get Rid of Medicines

Topic Overview

You might take prescription or over-the-counter medicines to help manage your health. But there may come a time when you no longer need to take these medicines or they have expired. An expired medicine is past its "use by" or "discard by" date. Medicine that has expired may not work as well and may no longer be safe to use. So don't use or keep medicine that has expired or that you don't need.

It's important to get rid of old or unwanted medicines. This can help prevent other people or animals from using medicines that aren't meant for them. A medicine can be helpful to the person it was prescribed for. But it can cause serious problems if it's used by someone else or an animal.

How do you get rid of medicines?

Use these drug disposal tips to get rid of old or unwanted medicines.

  1. Do not put medicines in the garbage or flush them down the toilet or sink.
  2. Talk to your pharmacist first. Most pharmacies have a medicine take-back program. This is the best way to safely get rid of medicines.
  3. Find out if your local waste disposal centre collects expired or unused medicines.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2011). Disposal of unused medicines: What you should know. Available online: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/EnsuringSafeUseofMedicine/SafeDisposalofMedicines/ucm186187.htm#MEDICINES.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Theresa O'Young, PharmD - Clinical Pharmacy
Margaret Hetherington, RPh - Pharmacy

Current as ofOctober 9, 2017

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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