Controlling the rising costs of pharmaceuticals, particularly those administered by physicians, has been a top health care priority for policymakers, with recent actions in both Congress and the executive branch. Reducing the waste from discarded drugs is a piece of the broader approach to drug affordability.
The best way to dispose of most types* of unused or expired medicines (both prescription and over the counter) is to drop off the medicine at a drug take back site, location, or program immediately.
All health professionals, not just pharmacists, can remind people to return their unwanted medicines so they can be disposed of safely.
We all have a role to play to minimise the risks associated with unwanted medicines.
Flushing or throwing away leftover drugs can contaminate waterways, threatening people and wildlife. Here are some safer solutions.
If you have old or unused narcotic painkillers in the medicine cabinet, your main choices for getting rid of them have been to toss them in the trash, flush them down the toilet or drop them off at the police station.
But soon it will be possible to take them to the local drugstore or even mail them back.
Drug disposal is one of those vexing problems where people generally want to do the right thing, but often simply don’t know how.
The greenest way to get rid of old prescription meds.
Left in medicine cabinets, those drugs can end up in the hands of children or others who really shouldn't be taking them. Proper and timely disposal can avert those problems. Flushing or trashing drugs has been the norm for decades, but take-back programs have been springing up at pharmacies and police departments lately.
It is also unclear whether take-back programs will help. Experts generally agree that the bigger source of pollution is urine and feces containing the remnants of drugs that are ingested, not the unused pills flushed down the toilet.
There are countless unwanted pills and syringes in households across the country, but it takes money to safely dispose of these medicines, and the pharmaceutical industry is trying to avoid picking up the tab.
There are five main disposal options—and flushing them should be your last resort.