Getting Rid of Old Medicines

Getting Rid of Old Medicines

Lee este articuloYou've probably heard that you're not supposed to pour old medicines down the toilet or drain. That's because they can get into the water supply and cause problems for people and wildlife.

But you can't just toss containers of pills and capsules into the trash either. They might fall into the wrong hands — along with your private health information (if it's a prescription). Or kids or pets might find them and mistake them for treats.

So what should you do? Destroy old medicines before putting them in the trash.

Here's how:

A small number of prescription medications are especially dangerous and need to be disposed of right away when they are no longer needed. These medicines should be flushed down the toilet for safety reasons. If your prescription is one of these, the label or sticker on the container should say so.

Another good way to get rid of old medicines is to take them to a medicine "take-back" program organized by a pharmacy, community organization, or government agency.

If you have a lot of old medicines, or questions about getting rid of medicines, talk to your pharmacist.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and

Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationU.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.
Related Articles
ADHD Medicines Lots of teens take medicines as part of their ADHD treatment plan. Get the facts on ADHD medicines and how they work.
Prescription Drug Abuse Why do people abuse prescription drugs? Some think that because a doctor prescribed them they must be stronger. Others believe they're safer and less addictive than street drugs. But there are many downsides to experimenting with prescription drugs.
Refilling a Prescription Tips and advice for teens on refilling a prescription.
How to Fill a Prescription Taking responsibility for your own health care means understanding things like prescriptions. Read our tips for teens on filling a prescription.
Understanding Medications and What They Do Medicines can cure, stop, or prevent disease; ease symptoms; or help in the diagnosis of certain illnesses. This article describes different types of medications and offers tips on taking them.
Developments Developments
Sign up for enewsletter
Get involved Get involved
Discover ways to support Akron Children's
Join the conversation Join the conversation
See what our patient families are saying