How to dispose of old medications
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that some drugs be flushed down the toilet when no longer needed, including OxyContin and Percocet. You can check the list here. Although medication can end up in our water supply when it is flushed, the FDA has concluded that these drugs don’t pose a big risk in water.
When you throw drugs in the trash, the risk is that an animal will get into the garbage and eat it or that someone might rescue it and take it or sell it. In a pinch, you can crush up pills and mix them with garbage and put them in a plastic bag.
Even better, take drugs you don’t flush to a community drop-off site (you can look for a local one here). You might see a kiosk at your local pharmacy or a police station.
Especially if you paid good money for a medicine, it’s hard to see a valuable item go into the garbage or down the toilet. But be glad you don’t need it anymore. Also, you should never give your drugs to another person — the drug could do her harm or could be passed on to others, and giving your drugs to someone else is illegal.
The bottom line: drugs are powerful. Don’t leave them where anyone can see them. Hide them or dispose of them.
April 02, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA