Dos and Don’ts of Prescription Medication Disposal

Medicines are manufactured to alleviate symptoms of diseases and seize the development of some illnesses. The chemical compounds that make up medicines are especially dedicated to helping medical practitioners promote well-being and combat health threats. 

When a medicine gets no longer valid, because it is unused or because it has already expired, the potency it promises also declines. Not all prescription medicines provide disposal instruction in its packaging. It is best to get familiar with the rule of thumb when unloading your stockpile of stored expired and unused medicines. 

Expired Medicines 

Of course, medicine comes with an expiration date printed on its packaging. If it has passed its due, the next thing to do is to employ proper disposal. As already mentioned, the effect of the medicine will gradually decrease over time. When it has reached its expiration date, it could jeopardize the patient’s health because of bacterial growth or changes in its chemical compounds. 

Prescription medicines cannot be availed without a registered physician’s order. Improper expired medication waste procedure could pose health risks if taken beyond its intended use. 

Unused Medicine 

Leftover medicines contribute to the share of personal care products and pharmaceuticals in the degradation of the environment. Unused medicines could be a patient’s excess purchases or are abandoned ones because the patient has died. 

Of course, a medicine’s efficacy would be pointless if not taken by a sick person. You can return these unused drugs to the collection centers under the drug take-back or drug return program. The pharmacies per se will serve as the receiving points of the returned drugs. This action prevents further drug pollution and drug recycling at the same time. 

Sharps and Needles 

Disposal of needles and sharps administered in medicinal processes should never be neglected. A mistake on the disposal could compromise public health and safety. 

Bloodborne infections could happen if needles are reused among multiple patients. Though this is quite impossible in health institutions, people who do illegal drugs are prone to getting diseases transmitted through body fluids such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C. 

Dos of Prescription Medicine Disposal 

1. Remove it from its Container 

Prescription medicines contained in a canister or any container should be removed from it. You can use a sealable bag to where you can transfer the pills or capsules. Make sure that there are no identification details on the bag. This is to ensure that no one would know what the medicines are and their intended use. 

You can also pour a small amount of water enough to dissolve the medicines. Adding non-food stuff like cat litter and shredded papers could make the mixture surely unidentifiable. 

2. Prescription Drug Return or Mail-Back Programs 

This method is the most decent option in the disposal of prescription medicines. Such programs allow users to submit unused and expired medicines to community pharmacies for proper disposal.  

Through the use of incinerators, destroying these medicines could be possible, keeping it from causing public health risks. 

3. Use Drug Deactivation Bags 

Drug Deactivation Bags are specially-made pouches to neutralize prescription medicines you have at home. With a few ounces of water, you can deactivate the compounds of the drugs. Going to local pharmacies could be quite tasking for the household, so this option is favorable for everybody. 

Having this special pouch could provide you satisfaction and assurance that the expired prescription you have at home will never be recycled. 

4. Flush the Medicines 

Flushing prescription medicines in your toilet is a convenient disposal method, which remains practical until today. There are several claims that the chemical compound could contaminate the water supply. However, there are medicines consisting of aspirin as an active ingredient that are safe to flush in the toilet. You can consult accessible health professionals for specific advice on this method.   

Don’ts of Prescription Medicine Disposal 

1. Don’t Flush Sharps and Needles 

Take note to handle drug paraphernalia like needles and syringes carefully because these might cause needle-stick injuries. When a used needle has penetrated multiple users, it might carry bloodborne diseases and prompt cross-infection.  

Additionally, sharps could block your water pipes. You might be paying unwanted charges because you’ll have to hire a plumber to troubleshoot the pipe blockage. Flushing sharps and needles makes you appear negligent and impractical as well. 

2. Don’t Pulverize Tablets 

Prescription medicines come in many forms. Some are taken orally, administered in syrup, and injected from vials.  

Oral dosage forms appear as tablets and capsules. If you pulverize unused medications of this form before throwing them in your household trash bin, you are allowing its particles to contaminate your place. If these happen to taint your child’s sandwich by the kitchen counter, the risk is now perpetrated by you. 

3. Don’t Throw Medicines Bare 

Repacking prescription medicines in a bag or any secured container without any trace of the user’s identification is a wise move. Prescription drugs are not to be shared with others. Therefore, it is your responsibility as the user to keep the prescription by yourself. Otherwise, if someone takes it unfittingly, health risks could manifest. 


In sustaining good health and well-being, keep your prescription medicine close to you until you fully recover, terminating the prescription’s validity as a result. Proper drug disposal is an effort leading towards upholding your immediate community’s health and welfare. 

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