Disposal Tips

Medicines play an important role in treating many conditions and diseases, but when they are no longer needed it’s important to dispose of them properly to avoid harm to others. A list of disposal options and special disposal instructions for you to consider when throwing out expired, unwanted, or unused medicines are included below.

Medicine Take-Back Programs

Medicine take-back programs for disposal are a good way to remove expired, unwanted, or unused medicines from the home and reduce the chance that others may accidentally take the medicine. Contact the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to learn about their take back locations and programs, or check with your Regional Prevention Coordinator to learn about activities that may be occurring in your community.

Disposal in Household Trash

If no medicine take-back program is available in your area, you can also follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the household trash:

  • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag;
  • Mix medicines with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds;
  • Throw the container in your household trash; and
  • Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.

Flushing of Certain Medicines

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are a small number of medicines that may be especially harmful and, in some cases, fatal with just one dose if they are used by someone other than the person for whom the medicine was prescribed. To prevent accidental ingestion by children, pets, or anyone else, a few medicines have specific disposal instructions indicating they should be flushed down the sink or toilet as soon as they are no longer needed, and when they cannot be disposed of through a medicine take-back program. Click here for a list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing.