Thursday, July 17, 2014

How Do I Dispose Of Unwanted Medication?

It seems that there's a medication for everything nowadays. Allergies, asthma, high blood pressure, depression. The list goes on and on. But what happens if this medication is out of date, unwanted, no longer needed or ? You could do what thousands, if not millions, of people think is best....flush it. 

We flush unneeded medication because we think that it dissolves in the sewage system and is simply gone. In reality, the following statistics have been found:
  • A recent study shows that 80 percent of US streams contain small amounts of human medicines. Sewage systems cannot remove these medicines from water that is released into lakes, rivers or oceans. 
  • Fish and other aquatic animals have shown adverse effects from medicines in the water and even very small amounts of medicine have been found in drinking water.
Flushing unneeded medication down the toilet is not necessarily the best or safest way to get rid of them. Medicine take-back programs, often referred to as pill drop-off, or pill drop programs are also called medicine take-back programs.

Take-back programs can be:
  • Ongoing drop-off programs.
  • One-day collection events.
  • Mail-back programs.
  • Combinations of these approaches.
Medicine take-back programs are the only secure and environmentally sound way
to dispose of leftover and expired medicines.  

  • Ongoing drop-off programs are usually at a pharmacy or a law enforcement office.
  • Take-back programs use secure equipment and procedures to prevent theft or diversion.
  • Collected medicines are destroyed in a way that protects our environment.
  • Community demand for medicine take-back programs is high, but most communities do not have a program. 
 Law enforcement programs: Most law enforcement programs accept all medicines, including controlled substances.  Some, however,  only accept prescription medicines. Some law enforcement offices accept pills without their containers.

Current federal regulations allow only law enforcement to collect controlled substances.  A new federal law will allow additional collection options. 
  • Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds;
  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and
  • Throw the container in your household trash.
  • Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. Some labels are also heat-sensitive. In these cases, using a heat gun or a hand-held torch will render the name, type of drug,  and other information completely illegible. 
For the disposal of some prescription medications, it is recommended to flush them to avoid the inherent danger of leaving them for someone else to find and possibly ingest. Some medications on this list are Percodan, Percocet, Oxycontin, Morphine Sulphate, Methadone, Demerol, and Fentanyl.

If you have unused, unwanted, or unneeded medications, please contact your local police non-emergency line. Visit our website at for the most up-to-date lists of flushable drugs and for more information on residential trash pick-up and recycling.

No comments:

Post a Comment