Medical Prescription Disposal Guidelines

Updated on April 24, 2020

There are drugs that are hazardous and harmful for any individual who is not having a doctor’s prescription for them. Your children and even pets may be at risk if the drug is not properly stored or disposed of. 

If these kinds of medicines are in any of these listed conditions, it should be disposed of properly:

  • Past the expiry date
  • Unwanted
  • Unused
  • Damaged or contaminated in any way
  • Unidentified

Any human or animal outside the house is at risk if they come across improperly disposed of drugs in the trash can. Disposing of drugs in the right way will encourage people to stop misusing dangerous drugs.

It is vital to dispose of expired or unwanted medication instantly. Other people could take it by mistake if it is found lying around carelessly. It may not work as supposed and could act dangerously in them. 

Expired or unwanted drugs

Adhere strictly to any disposal instructions given for over the counter (OTC) drugs. However, if the is no instruction on how to dispose of it, you can follow this instruction, though it depends on the condition:

Utilizing a drug take-back location

One of the most preferred options for disposing of unused drugs is to take the drug to a DEA registered center for drug collection. Experts will handle the drugs and dispose of them properly. The closest location around you can be traced to using the medical prescription disposal site.

When you have seen any agent on the site, they should be able to dispose of the following:

  • OTC drugs
  • Prescription medication
  • Dietary supplements 

Remove any personal detail attached to the medication before dropping it off.

By flushing the medicine

Almost every drug needs instant disposal because it can easily cause harm to people around you. In case you did not find any disposal center or site, which is rare, health authorities recommend that these medicines can be flushed down the toilet. FDA further recommended that medicine with the following compositions should be flushed straightaway:

  • acetaminophen
  • benzhydrocodone
  • buprenorphine
  • diazepam
  • fentanyl
  • hydrocodone
  • hydromorphone
  • meperidine
  • methadone
  • methylphenidate
  • morphine
  • oxycodone
  • oxymorphone
  • sodium oxybate
  • tapentadol
  • fentanyl patches

All these kinds of medicines should be flushed straight away and immediately when in use.

Dropping medicines in trash cans

Especially when there are no drug take-back facilities around you, and when the drug does not have any disposal instruction on it, and it is not on the flush list drugs, trashing it is safer. Trash them by doing the following:

  • Remove the medication out of their packs
  • Mix the drug with any substance that will distract kids and pets. It may be cat litter, dirt or coffee ground
  • Ensure not to crush the capsules or tablet
  • Put the drug in a plastic bag and seal it
  • Dispose of the container into the trash can
  • Empty medicine bottles should be recycled. Don’t be in a rush, delete or erase any of your detail on the drug

Syringes and needles

Safely disposing of syringes and needles keep people from getting injured or punctured by them. These set of drugs/medical instrument can be disposed of by following these guidelines:

  • Instantly after making use of them keep used syringes and needles into a container.
  • Make sure it is safely out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Don’t overfill the sharps disposal can.
  • Take along with you a travel size sharp disposal can when traveling.

These are places where you are allowed to drop off containers with sharp objects like the syringes and needles:

  • Dangerous waste collection centers.
  • Collection centers at hospitals, pharmacies or your doctor’s office.
  • FDA approved mail-back programs.

Sometimes, a trained collector can come to a person’s house to collect the sharps disposal containers.


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