Do you flush….

..unused or expired medications down the toilet? When I worked as a home infusion nurse a few years ago, I remember instructing our homecare patients to flush unused medications. I too have flushed expired medications at home while cleaning out my medicine cabinet. I was always under the impression, that flushing down the toilet or disposing in a sink was safer so that children or pets or other individuals would not reach them. Then we didn’t know that some of these medications could affect the water supply and the environment.

Now, the FDA has a list of medications recommended for disposal by flushing. Usually, the prescription has directions on how to dispose the medication. In the event flushing is not the recommended manner of disposal, unused or expired medications may be disposed of safely in the household trash by:

1. Mixing them with something that will hide the medicine or make it unappealing, such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds.
2. Placing the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag.
3. Throwing the container in your household trash.

Drug take-back programs for disposal can be another good way to remove unwanted or expired medicines from the home and reduce the chance that someone may accidentally take the medicine. Check out your local hospitals or community pharmacies for any programs available in your area and what medications can be taken back for disposal.

For more information on the federal guidelines on disposal of prescription medications, click here.