All Children's Hospital Logo

Health Information Library

Teens > Body > Getting Medical Care > Getting Rid of Old Medicines
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

Related Articles
T    ADHD Medicines
T    How to Fill a Prescription
T    Prescription Drug Abuse
T    Refilling a Prescription
T    Understanding Medications and What They Do
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved. Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and

Additional Info

Pocket Doc Mobile App
Maps and Locations (Mobile)
Programs & Services
For Health Professionals
For Patients & Families
Contact Us
Find a Doctor

All Children's Hospital
501 6th Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 898-7451
(800) 456-4543

Use Normal Template
© 2015 All Children's Hospital - All Rights Reserved