Medicine: Proper Disposal

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You may have medicines at home that have expired or are no longer needed. This will teach you how to throw the medicine away correctly.

Before you throw away the drug container, remove personal information, like the prescription label, to protect your identity and prevent illegal refills.

Prescription Take-Back Programs

The best way to get rid of unneeded medicine is through a drug take-back program. Many law enforcement agencies take back unneeded medicine. Contact your local law enforcement to see if they take back medicines or check for a list of locations. If you have any questions, please ask your child’s doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Disposal of Pills

Medicine can be disposed of at home if you are unable to use a take-back program. Put all the leftover medicine in a sealable plastic bag and add enough water or rubbing alcohol to dissolve the medicine. Add some unwanted material like coffee grounds or kitty litter. Throw it away in the trash where children and pets cannot reach it.

Disposal of Liquid Medicines, Eye Drops, Ear Drops, and Nose Sprays

Mix the leftover medicine with an unwanted material like coffee grounds or kitty litter, and place the mixture in a container or a sealable plastic bag that will not leak. Throw the container away in the trash where children and pets cannot reach it.

Disposal of Inhaler Products

When you throw away inhalers and aerosol products there can be:

  • Negative impacts on the environment
  • The danger of fire

Please contact your local trash and recycling facility to find out how to safely dispose of inhalers and aerosols. They will tell you how local regulations and laws say to get rid of these items.

When to Flush Prescription Drugs

Usually prescription medicines should not be flushed down the toilet unless the label on the container tells you to. If a take-back program is not available in your area, a list of medicines that can be flushed is found below.

The FDA advises always flushing narcotic medicated patches due to the risk of accidental exposure. When throwing away a medicated patch, fold the patch in half with the sticky sides together and flush down a toilet.

Flushable Medicines 


Active Ingredient

Actiq, oral transmucosal lozenge*

Fentanyl citrate

Avinza, capsules (extended release)

Morphine sulfate

Daytrana, transdermal patch system


Demerol, tablets and oral solution*

Meperidine hydrochloride

Diastat/Diastat AcuDial, rectal gel


Dilaudid, tablets and oral liquid*

Hydromorphone hydrochloride

Dolophine hydrochloride, tablets*

Methadone hydrochloride

Duragesic, patch (extended release)*


Embeda, capsules (extended release)

Morphine sulfate and Naltrexone hydrochloride

Exalgo, tablets (extended release)

Hydromorphone hydrochloride

Fentora, tablets (buccal)

Fentanyl citrate

Kadian, capsules (extended release)

Morphine sulfate

Methadone hydrochloride, oral solution*

Methadone hydrochloride

Methadose, tablets*

Methadone hydrochloride

Morphine sulfate, tablets and oral solution (immediate release)*

Morphine sulfate

MS Contin, tablets (extended release)*

Morphine sulfate

Onsolis, soluble film (buccal)

Fentanyl citrate

Opana, tablets (immediate release)

Oxymorphone hydrochloride

Opana ER, tablets (extended release)

Oxymorphone hydrochloride

Oramorph SR, tablets (sustained release)

Morphine sulfate

Oxycodone tablets, capsules, oral solution

Oxycodone hydrochloride

Oxycontin, tablets (extended release)*

Oxycodone hydrochloride

Percocet, tablets*

Acetaminophen and Oxycodone hydrochloride

Percodan, tablets*

Aspirin and Oxycodone hydrochloride


Buprenorphine hydrochloride and Naloxone hyrdochloride

Xyrem, oral solution

Sodium oxybate

*These medicines have generic versions available or are only available in generic formulations.

Medicine Proper Disposal (PDF)

HH-V-228 11/08, Revised 9/16 Copyright 2008 Nationwide Children’s Hospital