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What should you do with expired or unwanted medications?

Your pharmacists at RoundtableRx have the answers! 

If you have unwanted medicine that cannot be donated for reuse, such as expired, refrigerated, or damaged medicine, there are options for you to dispose of these products safely. Ensuring proper disposal of unneeded medicine is important for keeping our communities and environment safe. 

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Do not flush medicine down the drain.

Medicines flushed down toilets or sink drains can contaminate lakes and streams, harm aquatic wildlife, and end up in drinking water. Water treatment plants are not designed to remove medicines from wastewater; therefore, the medicines can be released into our waterways and the environment. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has more information on this.

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Arrow pointing from pill bottle to toilet
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Arrow pointing from toilet to warning sign
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Find a medication take-back program.

Many local pharmacies, clinics, police stations and government buildings have medicine take-back bins. These bins provide a free, convenient, and safe way to dispose of unneeded medicine. Find a bin close to you using the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's interactive map.

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Assortment of Pills

Disposing of medicine at home.

If a medicine take-back program is not available in your area, it is still important to destroy unneeded or expired medicine. As a last resort, you can dispose of old medicines at home. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recommends keeping prescriptions in their original container. To discourage others from taking them, add vinegar and coffee grounds or kitty litter to pills. For liquid medicine, mix in a generous amount of table salt. Tape the lid shut and cover personal information with a permanent marker. Put the container in a nontransparent bag and place in the garbage.

Safe needle disposal.

Used needles and other sharps pose a danger to people and pets. They can cause injury and spread infections. Needles, syringes, and other sharps should be disposed in an appropriate sharps container. There are several counties throughout Minnesota with community sharps disposal programs. If there isn't a disposal program near you, you may be able to place the sealed container in the trash, but contact your waste collector first. Never recycle sealed sharps containers and never place loose sharps in the trash.


Still have questions about safe medication disposal?

Contact your local pharmacy with questions about safely disposing of medications and medical waste. Your pharmacist is your medication safety expert.

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