Disposing safely of unwanted medication

Mon, 04/15/2019

Every day should be prescription take back day. Take back locations are located across Western WA. Click here to find a location near you.

Properly disposing of medications can improve the safety of our environment and communities by reducing the risk of accidental exposure or intentional misuse.

According to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, on the last Take Back Day in October 2018, Washington State collected 15,604 pounds of unwanted medications. Since 2011, over 224,037 pounds of unwanted medicines have been returned and safely destroyed in Washington.

Drug take-back programs accept most medications, including:

  • Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications
  • Vitamins
  • Pet medications
  • Medicated ointments and lotions

Follow any specific disposal directions that apply to the medications you take. Certain medications, such as fentanyl patches, have specific disposal directions. Ask your pharmacist about any special disposal directions for your medications.

Where do I dispose of my unused medications?

Take Back Your Meds Program

Find a location to drop off medications at participating pharmacies or law enforcement agencies.

Dispose My Meds Program

Find a participating independent pharmacy to drop off medications. Contact the pharmacy first to confirm they provide this service.

Areas without take back locations

If there is no take back location in your area, dispose of medications in your household trash. Certain medications can be fatal if taken and should be flushed after they are no longer needed.

  1. Remove the medications from their original containers and mix them with something undesirable, such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. This makes the medicine less appealing to children and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through the trash looking for medications.
  2. Put the mixture in something you can close (e.g., a re-sealable storage bag, or plastic food container) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling out.
  3. Throw the container in the garbage.
  4. Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.

Learn more about safe medication disposal at the Food and Drug Administration website.