Safe Disposal

When was the last time you cleaned out your household supply of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines?

Just like the dosing instructions and additional information on the label, the expiration date on the packaging is there for reason. Once a medicine has reached its expiration date, it may not provide the treatment that you need.

To ensure the medicines you take are both safe and effective, keep an eye on the expiration dates and safely dispose of any expired or unwanted medicines.

In-home disposal of all OTCs is safe and convenient—here’s how to do it!

Follow these simple steps from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to dispose of OTCs in your household trash:

  1. Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds.
  2. Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag.
  3. Throw the container in your household trash.

KnowYourOTCs-SafeMedicineDisposal-TW-v2bCommunity take-back days provide another option for medicine disposal. Check the DEA’s website to see if there is an approved medicine take-back program in your community. Take-back programs are also sponsored by police departments, municipal buildings, or pharmacies.

Questions about prescription medicines? For specific information on disposal of prescription drugs, including which ones should be flushed, go to the FDA’s website.

New findings about consumer attitudes on OTC medicine disposal are based on a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the CHPA Educational Foundation.


NCPIE_EducateLogo_wTagURLThis page was developed in collaboration with the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE). Founded in 1982, NCPIE is a non-profit multi-stakeholder coalition working to stimulate and improve communication of information on the appropriate use of medicines to consumers and health care professionals.