How to Dispose of Unused Medicine


When you end up with unused leftover medicine, whether prescription or over the counter, it’s important to dispose of it safely.

It is much better to dispose of your unused medicine than to keep it around.

In many drug recall cases, you may have the potentially dangerous recalled drug still in your home. It’s important that you dispose of the recalled drug after following protocol for your specific recalled drug (like checking the lot number or packaging in some cases).

Unused medicine that is stored instead of properly disposed could accidentally be ingested by those who were not intended to use it like children or elderly family members.

There are a few ways to dispose of your unused medication.

Drug Take Back Programs

Many states across the country offer drug take back programs which operate on either a permanent or periodic basis. Your state or county very likely has a drug take back program.

In Illinois, there are many different drug take back locations across the state which you can find listed here.

In Rock Island county, where VanDerGinst Law is located, the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Office hosts a drug take back day to dispose of unused medication.

There are also many year-round drug take back sites in Iowa, which you can find here on the interactive map.

Drug take back programs or events are the best way to properly dispose of unused medication.

Commonly accepted items at drug take back programs are most prescription drugs, vitamins and dietary supplements, pet medications, and more.

Commonly prohibited items include illegal drugs, sharps, and medications that have special safety protocols for disposal.

While regulations and directions will differ from state to state and county to county, normally you can take your unwanted medication to the collection site in its original container with your information removed from the label and your medication will be disposed of.

Throw It Away

When drug take back programs are not available to you, you do have the option to discard some medications by throwing them in the trash.

However, please follow patient instructions and don’t flush any medicine unless told to do so.

Remove medicine from its original container so that it is less desirable to anyone looking through trash or to children.

Mix the medication with an undesirable substance like coffee grounds, dirt, kitty litter, etc.

Place this mixture in a sealed bag so that it does not leak, and then place in the trash.

Only throw away medicine if this is the only option available to you and if the unused medication in question is able to be safely thrown away.

Never throw away medications which warn against this, and always contact a pharmacist if you have any doubts about your method of disposal.

Flush the Medication

Your last line of defense for disposing of unused medication is to flush it down the toilet.

However, this should only be used in appropriate circumstances or when this is recommended for the medication that you are disposing of.

For most medications, flushing is NOT recommended.

This is because the medication can then end up in trace amounts in our water supply which can hurt our environment.

However, there are certain medications that the FDA recommends that you should flush immediately if you do not have a drug take back program or other options available to you.

You can find a list of these medications here where you can find specific instructions on how to dispose of each.

Medicines on this flush list could be harmful or fatal if ingested by anyone other than the person to whom they were prescribed.

Flushing these medications (when drug take back locations are not immediately available) keeps children, pets, and other individuals safe.

You May Be Eligible for Compensation

Properly disposing of medications is important to avoid adverse exposure, and to ensure that ingestion of these medications (whether accidental or purposeful) does not occur.

If you or a loved one have been injured by medication that has been improperly disposed of, you may be eligible for compensation.

Contact VanDerGinst Law for a free consultation.

Our team of experienced, knowledgeable attorneys will help you navigate your case.  

The information contained on this website is presented by VanDerGinst Law P.C. It is not intended nor should it be construed as professional legal advice. The information is general in nature about the Firm, the scope of services we offer, and our community outreach, it is not legal advice. Please contact us by phone, email, mail, or via this website for inquiries. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a personal injury attorney for a consultation regarding your situation. This website is not intended to solicit clients outside the State of Iowa and/or the State of Illinois.

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