How to Dispose of Prescription Medications - Canada Online Health
Canada Online Health

How to Dispose of Prescription Medications

It’s a fact that prescription medications and other pharmaceutical waste, when disposed of improperly, have a negative effect on the environment.   A study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a government organization dedicated to studying ecological hazards, found that medications such as antibiotics, hormones and other medications are a threat to our drinking water supply. 

Another reason medication needs to be disposed of properly is for the health and safety of anyone who attempts to use any improperly disposed medications.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy created guidelines to help consumers understand the best way to dispose of prescription medications.  The guidelines are quite clear:

  1. Do not flush any medication down the toilet unless there are specific instructions to do so.
  2. Take any pills you want to dispose of out of the original container and mix them with coffee grounds or some other undesirable substance. Do not crush tablets or capsules.
  3. Put the medications and coffee ground mixture into a sealed container such as a bag or can, seal it, and dispose of it in the garbage.
  4. Be sure to scratch out any personal information, such as your name and the name of the medication, on the label of the medicine bottle.

Some pharmacies do have take-back programs to which you can take unused medication in for proper disposal.

There are some medications that have direct and specific instructions to immediately flush them down the toilet when they are no longer needed, because they are potentially dangerous and/or lethal if used by anyone other than the person they are prescribed for.   An example of this is fentanyl patches.   

For more information on the safe disposal of prescription medication and a  list of medicines recommend for disposal by flushing when take back programs are not available, visit the FDA website. Speak to your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medication and if a take back program is available in your area.

If you have questions about your prescription or any other medication, our discreet and caring team here at Canada Online Health will be happy to answer your questions.  Simply phone us Toll Free at 1-800-399-DRUG (3784).

This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnoses or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).

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