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Project Medicine Drop

Medication Safety and Disposal

Keep Your Prescription Medications Safe

When medications in the home are not kept safe and secure, they create the risk of abuse or accidental poisoning.

Knowing how to make use of Project Medicine Drop, or otherwise safely dispose of your unused medications, is just part of the solution.

If you keep prescription medicines in your home, you also have the responsibility to keep them safe. Refer to these important tips:

  • Talk With Your Children and Grandchildren.
    Discuss the dangers of abusing over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Make sure they know you will be keeping an eye on the over-the-counter and prescription drugs in your home, and that you have asked family friends, grandparents, and other relatives to do the same.
  • Be Alert for Possible Signs of Abuse and Addiction.
    They include: hyperactivity or sleeplessness (seen with stimulants); slowed movements or reaction time, slurred speech, or disorientation (seen with depressants or painkillers); sudden weight loss or weight gain; excessive sleep.
  • Keep Track of the Medications in Your Home.
    Take an inventory of the over-the-counter and prescription medications every six months, or more frequently if you suspect abuse.
  • Keep All Medications In One Location.
    Consider keeping them in a locked cabinet, locked drawer, or childproof lock box.

You can find much more information about prescription drug safety through the FDA's Safe Use Initiative.

Proper Disposal of Medication

​​If a Project Medicine Drop location is not available nearby, you can dispose of unused and expired prescription medications by following these tips developed by the FDA and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy:

  • Follow any specific disposal instructions on the medication's drug label or patient information.
  • If no disposal instructions are provided on the label, you can throw drugs in the household trash. First take them out of the original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance such as coffee grounds or kitty litter. Then put the unattractive mixture in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent it from leaking out of a garbage bag.
  • Before throwing out a medicine container, scratch out all identifying information on the label in order to protect your identity and your privacy.
  • DO NOT give medications to friends. Doctors prescribe drugs based on a person's specific symptoms and medical history. A drug that helps you may harm someone else.
  • When in doubt about proper disposal of a drug, talk to your pharmacist.

Always remember:

Consumers are NOT advised to flush unused medications down the drain, or simply discard them in the trash.

Scientists have expressed concerns about the effects of medications being released into the water supplies after having been flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink, and the U.S. Geological Survey has found traces of pharmaceuticals in streams in 30 states. Simply placing drugs in the trash creates the potential that they will be found by those seeking to sell or abuse them.

More information on "How to Dispose of Unused Medicines"

Last Modified: 1/16/2018 5:27 AM