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How To Dispose Of Unused Drugs And Supplies


Don't keep unused drugs. Consider donating them. If not, at least dispose of them properly. 
  • It is not wise to be tempted to use drugs from your cabinet if the same symptoms reappear. The new symptoms may be due to a different cause or other aspects of your condition may have changed. If symptoms reappear, speak with your doctor bout what to do. If you prefer to keep unused pills, do not use them without getting prior approval from your doctor. 
  • It is also better to get rid of opiod painkillers to avoid tempting someone with an addiction. The consequences can be deadly.

When thinking about what to do with unused drugs, please consider teh following:

Do not share unused pills with a family member or friend. Only an educated health care provider knows all the aspects to look for before prescribing a drug.
Donation:  It is against the law to give prescription drugs to another person. However, there are groups that collect unused drugs for distribution to people who cannot afford them. If you have a large enough quantity to justify the effort, look for a group that has the sophistication:
  • To only give the drugs to people with an appropriate prescription 
  • To store drugs properly 
  • To watch for expiration dates.

You can also donate drugs for use in developing countries through International Aid, Inc. see: offsite linkor call (24 hours a day): 800.251.2502

Proper Disposal of Drugs

Do not dispose of unused drugs by flushing them down the toilet or drain unless the label or product  information says it is okay. It  is not  good for the enviornment, and the drug can show up in the drinking water supply.

Following are alternatives for proper disposal:

  • Check for a local pharmacy which participates in the National Community Pharmacists Association's drug take-back program. The program sends left over drugs to medical waste disposal facilities. You can find a participating pharmacy at: offsite link. Some facilities will not take legal drugs that are regulated by the government, such as addictive opoids
  • To find drop off sites for controlled drugs, call: 800.882.9539
  • Twice a year, the federal government partners with state and local agtencies to operate temporeary colledtion sites. Check for details at: offsite link

If there is no local participating pharmacy, to dispose of drugs safely, the Office Of National Drug Control Policy suggests:

  • Take unused drugs out of their original container. This action helps keep unused drugs out of the wrong hands.
  • Don't put unused drugs down the toilet unless accompanying patient information states that it is safe to do so.
  • Mix prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as kitty litter or coffee grinds you don't use for your garden. Put the substance in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty coffee cans or sealable plastic bags.  Then place in the trash.


  • If you cannot find a site to take them, the FDA suggests that drugs such as fentanyl and oxycodone should be flushed down the toilet despite the enviornmental risks because these drugs can be espeailly harmful. For the full list, see: offsite link
  •  If you have medical related equipment or supplies you no longer need, consider donating them to groups such as the American Cancer Society (Tel. 800.ACS.2345) for use for patients who cannot afford to purchase their own. You can take the value of the donation as a charitable tax deduction. (For information about expenses that are considered to be "medical expenses" for tax purposes, click here.) 

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