How Should I Get Rid of My Old Medicine?

In the past, Poison Centers have recommended just flushing those old unwanted or expired drugs down the toilet or putting them down the sink. These recommendations were made specifically to prevent accidental ingestion and poisoning of children and pets. Studies over the past several years though have shown this might not be such a good idea. Measurable amounts of some drugs such as antibiotics, hormones, cardiac medications and others are showing up in our nation's waterways. Water treatment plants are unable to remove these compounds before they reach the environment. Throwing medications away with the trash may cause less pollution, but there is that risk that other people or animals may get hold of it. Privacy may also be a concern if containers have labels with names and other personal information.

The following recommendations may take more time and effort from caregivers than simple flushing, but they will prevent accidental poisonings as well as lessen the environmental impact of these drugs on the environment.
Where available, take expired or unwanted medications to pharmacy or public health sponsored medication disposal sites. To find out when and where the next event will be, click on one of these links: or

If a medication disposal program is not available in your area, the unwanted or expired medicine may be thrown away in the trash by following these steps:

Note: The FDA advises the following drugs be flushed down the toilet and not thrown in the trash:

Always refer to the printed material accompanying medication for specific instructions.

The information provided in this website is offered for general informational and educational purposes only; it is not offered as and does not constitute medical advice. While we try to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy or reliability with respect to the website or the information contained on the website.