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Get rid of old drugs safely

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Protect yourself and others

Old and unused medications and used needles can be a danger to your family, your community, and the environment. To prevent problems:

  • Put old bottles of pills in the trash. Keep them in the original containers, but mark out the patient's name and personal information. Secure the packaging with strong tape. Place the medication container into a non-transparent container, such as a small yogurt tub.
  • Discourage others from consuming old medications by adding water to the bottle to dissolve pills, or adding coffee grounds or spices to make liquid medication less appealing.
  • Consider buying a needle-destruction device or a sharps container that makes needles safe for direct disposal in the trash. They can be found at drug stores or online. Research your local waste collection rules for needle disposal.
  • Don’t flush medications in the toilet. Doing so can pollute wastewater and harm wildlife.

Get more tips about throwing away medicinesKaiser Permanente is not responsible for the content or policies of external Internet sites. from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Reviewed by: Arthur Hayward, MD and Helene Martel, MA, April 2014

©2014 Kaiser Permanente