How do I safely dispose of expired drugs and medication in my medicine cabinet?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends the following: 

Drug Disposal Guidelines and Locations

The following guidelines were developed to encourage the proper disposal of medicines and help reduce harm from accidental exposure or intentional misuse after they are no longer needed.

  • Follow any specific disposal instructions on the prescription drug labeling or patient information that accompanies the medicine. Do not flush medicines down the sink or toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.
  • Take advantage of programs that allow the public to take unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Call your local law enforcement agencies to see if they sponsor medicine take-back programs in your community. Contact your city or county government's household trash and recycling service to learn about medication disposal options and guidelines for your area.
  • Transfer unused medicines to collectors registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Authorized sites may be retail, hospital or clinic pharmacies, and law enforcement locations. Some offer mail-back programs or collection receptacles ("drop boxes"). Visit the DEA's website or call 1-800-882-9539 for more information and to find an authorized collector in your community. 

For more information on FDA guidelines, click here.

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