1 / FDA Consume r Hea l t h In fo r ma t ion / U . S . F ood and D r ug Admin i s t r a t ion
APR IL 14 , 2009
Consumer Health Information
Most drugs can be thrown in the household trash, but
consumers should take certain precautions before tossing
them out, according to the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA). A few drugs should be flushed down the toilet.
And a growing number of community-based “take-back”
programs offer another safe disposal alternative.
Guidelines for Drug Disposal
FDA worked with the White House Office of National
Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to develop the first
consumer guidance for proper disposal of prescription
drugs. Issued by ONDCP in February 2007, the federal
guidelines are summarized here:
• Follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug
label or patient information that accompanies the
medication. Do not flush prescription drugs down
the toilet unless this information specifically instructs
you to do so.
• If no instructions are given, throw the drugs in the
household trash, but first:
• Take them out of their original containers and mix
them with an undesirable substance, such as used
coffee grounds or kitty litter. The medication will
be less appealing to children and pets, and unrec-
ognizable to people who may intentionally go
through your trash.
• Put them in a sealable bag, empty can, or other
container to prevent the medication from leaking
or breaking out of a garbage bag.
Is your medicine cabinet filled with expired
drugs or medications you no longer use?
How should you dispose of them?
How to Dispose of
Take drugs out of their original containers and mix them with
an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds …
Photo Illustration: FDA/Michael Ermarth
2 / FDA Consume r Hea l t h In fo r ma t ion / U . S . F ood and D r ug Admin i s t r a t ion
APR IL 14 , 2009
Consumer Health Informa