Disposing Prescription Medications

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At your local pharmacist in Phoenix, Valley of the Sun Pharmacy, we do more than fulfill your medical prescriptions, we a local advocate for your health, dispensing medicines, supplements, and advice based on years of experience and education.

Remember the last time you cleaned out prescriptions in your medicine cabinet? You came across several expired medication bottles, old vitamins and maybe a couple tubes of ointments that you used once or twice and never opened again. So how did you dispose of everything? The pills probably got flushed down the toilet, and the rest tossed in the trash.

While a few medications are recommended to be disposed of by flushing down the toilet, most are not. Medications that are flushed down the toilet have been detected in water supplies throughout the world. There is an appropriate way to dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications so that they cause the least amount of damage to our environment.

At Valley of the Sun Pharmacy we recommend that most drugs can be disposed of in your regular trash, if done properly. Strong narcotic pain relievers and other controlled substances have instructions to flush down the toilet. This is to avoid the potential for unintentional use, overdose and illegal abuse. For example Fentanyl patches contain a large amount of very strong medication that remains on the patch even after it is removed. Throwing such patches into the regular trash poses the risk of a person or animal being harmed.

The FDA has partnered with drug manufacturers in determining the safest methods for drug disposal. By following proper medication disposal recommendations we can all do our part in preserving our environment and avoiding harm to a person or animal.

Disposing of medications that are in pill form

  • Remove from the original container and crush if possible
  • Mix with an undesirable substance like coffee grounds or kitty litter
  • Place in a sealed baggie or plastic container that will not leak when placed in your regular trash
  • Adding a small amount of water will dissolve the pills into the coffee grounds or kitty litter mixture
  • Place in your regular trash container to be disposed of in the nearest landfill

Disposal of Inhalers used for Asthma
Inhalers traditionally contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) which damage the ozone. CFC inhalers are being phased out and replaced with containers that are more environmentally friendly. Remember that, depending on where you live, inhalers may be thrown into the regular trash or may be considered a hazardous waste product which requires special handling and disposal.

Disposal of creams, liquids and gels
Creams, liquids, and gels can usually be disposed of exactly like solid pills. Remember to read the brochure that accompanies the medication to make sure there are no specific recommendations for disposal.

Many local community pharmacies are involved in a drug take-back program. For more information on what programs are available in your area contact your local Phoenix community pharmacist. Phoenix Pharmacy staff delivers prescriptions, supplements and healthy advice for residents of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale and Tempe, Arizona. Don’t hesitate to call us with a question (602) 986-0454.

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