Tips for safe disposal of pharmaceuticals at home

The following guidelines are recommended by the Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA) for disposal of medications.

  • Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers and throw them in the trash.
  • Mixing prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and putting them in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, will further ensure the drugs are not diverted.
  • Flush prescription drugs down the toilet only if the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs doing so.
  • Take advantage of community pharmaceutical take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Some communities have pharmaceutical take-back programs or community solid-waste programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Where these exist, they are a good way to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.

The FDA advises that the following drugs be flushed down the toilet instead of thrown in the trash:

  • Actiq (fentanyl citrate);
  • Daytrana transdermal patch (methylphenidate);
  • Duragesic transdermal system (fentanyl);
  • OxyContin tablets (oxycodone);
  • Avinza capsules (morphine sulfate);
  • Baraclude tablets (entecavir);
  • Reyataz capsules (atazanavir sulfate);
  • Tequin tablets (gatifloxacin);
  • Zerit for oral solution (stavudine);
  • Meperidine HCl tablets;
  • Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen);
  • Xyrem (sodium oxybate);
  • Fentora (fentanyl buccal tablet).