If you open your medicine cabinet, chances are it’ll contain some expired medications or medications you don’t use anymore. It is important to not just let medications sit there. Safe medication disposal is extremely important so the medication won’t get into the wrong hands.
To dispose of medications, you can find a collection point near you, or there are ways to safely discard your medications at home.
Many communities have collection areas for safe medication disposal. This is the preferred way for medication disposal when possible. You can find a collection point near you that is authorized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, or you can check with law enforcement officials in your area.
Also, many pharmacies have drop-off boxes on site. If yours does not, still contact your pharmacy because it may have a mail-back program or additional ways to assist you in disposing of your medication safely.
Safely Discarding Medications at Home
If you don’t have a medication collection point near you or if your pharmacy does not have ways to assist with medication disposal, there are ways you can discard your medications at your home. However, this depends on the type of medication.
- Flushing: This disposal method is for medications that say they are especially harmful if used improperly. These medications will have clear instructions to pour them down the sink or flush them in the toilet when no longer in use. To find out if you need to do this for your medication, examine the medication label, look up patient information regarding your medication, or read the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s listing of medications that can be flushed.
- Trash: If your medication is not on the FDA’s list of medications that can be flushed, your medicine can likely be thrown into the trash. This applies to prescription and over-the-counter medications in cream, patch, drop, liquid or pill format. To safely dispose of medications in the trash:
- Take the medication out of the container it came in. To make it look unrecognizable and not ideal to use, mix it with cat litter, coffee grounds, dirt or a similar substance.
- Put the medication in a container you can close, such as a laundry detergent or bleach container, so it won’t leak or spill.
- Throw the container away.
- To protect your privacy and shield yourself from identity theft, scratch out or rip up your personal identifying information on the original medication container packaging, and throw that packaging away.
One exception is that if you have inhalers that need to be thrown away, you need to contact your trash or recycling company. This is because inhalers are not safe to be punctured or burned.
For disposal questions for your medication, UofL Health – Pharmacy is here for you. UofL Health has the following outpatient pharmacy locations for your medication and pharmacy needs:
- UofL Health – UofL Hospital: 502-562-3571
- *Drug disposal program available at UofL Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy
- UofL Health – Jewish Hospital: 502-569-7902
- *Drug disposal program available at Jewish Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy
- UofL Health – Mary & Elizabeth Hospital: 502-367-3315
- UofL Health – Specialty Pharmacy: 502-681-1600
Make sure to contact your provider if you or a loved one takes a medication that has expired or if you have an allergic reaction to a medication. In an emergency, dial 911.