Disposing of Unused Medicines

April 2, 2012 — 1,229 views  
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The requirements for discarding unused medication vary significantly based on the medicine in question. Some require nothing more complex than the flick of the wrist necessary to throw them in the nearest wastebasket. Others require considerably more care, and must be handled by public works professionals.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), prescription drugs must have any necessary specific instructions for medication disposal clearly printed on the label. In some cases, this may be to flush the medicine down the toilet, while others can simply be placed in the trash.

Prescription drugs that must be thrown away according to strict guidelines, for safety reasons, can often be taken to community-run facilities that house drug take-back programs. Some of these include inhalers prescribed for the treatment of asthma or other respiratory conditions, and such pharmaceuticals must be disposed of by public works personnel trained and qualified to handle hazardous waste - this is due to their flammability.

In addition, the potential environmental hazards must be taken into account, to some extent, regarding medication disposal. Finally, certain laws may regulate the disposal of medicines classified as painkillers, such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Percodan, Dilaudid and similar drugs, due to their potential for drug abuse.