How can I Safely Store and Dispose of My Medicines?


Continuing Series: Questions from Consumers …

This year, April 30, 2016 was National Drug Take-Back Day. According to the FDA, this day allows people across the country to safely dispose of unused or old medicines by dropping them off at designated sites. The goal is to reduce the number of cases of prescription drug abuse and prescription drug overdose, by lowering the availability of potentially lethal medicines that remain stored in medicine cabinets long after they are needed.

How you can help
It is alarming to note that, while we have a better chance of surviving diseases and conditions that were once a death sentence, the development of more effective prescription treatments has come with a price–medicines ending up in the wrong hands. But we can all alter the trend by doing our part to ensure this doesn’t happen, by storing and disposing of medicines safely.

Not only should we remember to store prescription medicines safely out of the reach of children and pets, but we must also not forget to get rid of medicines that are no longer necessary or that have passed their expiration date, to avoid misuse.

A good way to begin is to do a personal inventory of what’s in your medicine cabinet. Ask yourself – “Are my prescription medicines stored within easy access to anyone other than myself?” If your answer is “yes”, find a better place that will not encourage others to abuse your needed medicines.

If you are taking prescription painkillers (such as oxycodone) or other medical opioids, place them where only you can get to them.


While the National Drug Take-Back program was only a one-day event, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds us all, that we can practice safe disposal every day. And here are a few ways (courtesy of Of Unused Medications):

  • Check disposal information that comes with your medicine first.
  • Check for a local take-back program in your community.
  • — Call your local hospital, pharmacy, or emergency rooms (they occasionally collect usable supplies and medications for donation out-of-country).
  • — Call your local trash service – they might have options for disposal.
  • — Check organizations that accept donations of unused medications for needs in developing countries.
If these options are not available, then you may follow these easy instructions for disposing medicines in the household trash as provided by the FDA:
  • Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules), with an unpleasant smelling or messy substance, for example: used kitty litter or coffee grounds are good choices.
  • Place the mixture in a sealed container (plastic zip bag), before throwing in trash.
  • Consider pouring ammonia or Clorox on medicines before placing them in the trash.
  • Throw liquid medicines in an absorbent material (kitty litter) place in plastic bag and dispose in trash.
  • Remove labels from all used pill bottles and containers before throwing empty ones away.

Avoid flushing medications down a drain or toilet – make this a very last resort and only if your medication is on the FDA approved list for flushing. Let’s do our part to protect our water supply while preventing drug misuse. Check with the  for the date of the next National Drug Take-Back Day and with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy for additional information on how they are helping with key initiatives.

Remember, keep your medicines out of easy access to anyone, at anytime, except yourself.

References: FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Protection, WebMD,, WikiHow,

By WHblogger

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.

One Response to “How can I Safely Store and Dispose of My Medicines?

  1. Kayo says:

    I’ve been loniokg for a post like this forever (and a day)

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