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Getting Rid of Old Medicines

Lee este articuloYou've probably heard that you're not supposed to pour old medicines down the toilet or drain. That's because they can get into the water supply and cause problems for people and wildlife.

But you can't just toss containers of pills and capsules into the trash either. They might fall into the wrong hands — along with your private health information (if it's a prescription). Or kids or pets might find them and mistake them for treats.

So what should you do? Destroy old medicines before putting them in the trash.

Here's how:

A small number of prescription medications are especially dangerous and need to be disposed of right away when they are no longer needed. These medicines should be flushed down the toilet for safety reasons. If your prescription is one of these, the label or sticker on the container should say so.

Another good way to get rid of old medicines is to take them to a medicine "take-back" program organized by a pharmacy, community organization, or government agency.

If you have a lot of old medicines, or questions about getting rid of medicines, talk to your pharmacist.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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