Disposing of Unwanted Medicine

When my clients move from their homes, they frequently leave unused medicines.  Of course, my assistants and I often find partially full prescription bottles when we help families clean out homes after a loved one dies.When my clients move from their homes, they frequently leave unused medicines.  Of course, my assistants and I often find partially full prescription bottles when we help families clean out homes after a loved one dies.

For most people, the first impulse is to throw unwanted drugs down the drain or flush them down the toilet.  But please don’t do this!  This practice pollutes our water supply, and nobody wants to drink Viagra water.  In theory, “Medicine Take-Back” programs will safely dispose of pharmaceuticals, and the FDA’s website refers quite extensively to them.

But, I have never encountered such a program, and none of our local pharmacies offer a collection option. But there remains a safe, simple and effective solution:

  1. Place clean kitty litter, unused coffee grounds, or dirt in a ziploc type bag.
  2. Add the medicine to the bag (but don’t crush or pulverize the pills).
  3. Add water to the bag and mix well.
  4. Seal the bag and throw it in the household trash.
  5. Scratch out the personal information on the empty pill bottles and dispose of the container.

If you want more information on this or other drug-related topics, click on the FDA link above.