How To Properly Dispose Of Unused Prescription Drugs

Though most Americans throw their prescription drugs in the trash after they expire or are no longer needed, concerns over the potential environmental harm that could be caused by the nearly 200 million pounds of medicine that goes unused each year have led to increasing focus on how to properly dispose of old medication. The FDA recommends contacting your city or county government to find out about any take-back programs in your area. Take-back programs collect unused drugs and incinerate them along with medical waste. If there are no local take-back programs, however, the FDA suggests mixing your medicine with an unpalatable substance such as cat litter or coffee grounds, placing them in a sealed bag, and throwing them out with the trash. The FDA also provides a list of medicines, such as opiates and high-potency controlled substances, that they recommend should be flushed down the sink or toilet. Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., deputy center director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said simple precautions reduce the likelihood of accidental and potentially dangerous exposure to unused medicines. More here, here, and here.

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