The Division of Drug Information (DDI) is CDER's focal point for public inquiries. We serve the public by providing information on human drug products and drug product regulation by FDA.
A CDER Conversation with Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA.
Last year Americans filled 4.3 billion prescriptions. It is clear that prescription drugs play an important role in managing a range of medical conditions and are widely used in homes across the United States. But the drug life-cycle is not complete until the medicine has been consumed in its entirety or eventually discarded properly. However, little attention is given to the potential risks, such as accidental exposure or intentional misuse, related to improper medicine disposal. Where should unused and expired medicines go? Let’s look at drug disposal and get a better understanding of why it’s important to safeguard medicines in the home and how to properly dispose them when no longer needed.
For most prescription medicines, we recommend they be returned through a local, or U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency-sponsored take-back program or DEA-authorized collector. For a small number of drugs, we recommend immediate removal from the home by flushing them down the toilet or sink.
There are several programs consumers can access to help them dispose of unused or unwanted prescription drugs. First, the tack back programs. These events are held in many parts of the country and can help you dispose of unused and unneeded drugs quickly and safely. Check with your local government or the DEA’s website for information on the next take-back event in your community.
Another good option for safe disposal is to locate a DEA-authorized collection site.. Authorized collection sites may be retail pharmacies, hospital or clinic pharmacies or law enforcement locations. Some authorized collection sites may also offer mail-back programs or collection receptacles, sometimes called drop-boxes.
If these options aren’t available, the drugs should be removed from their original containers, mixed with coffee grinds, cat litter or some other undesirable substance, and placed in a plastic container. This can be thrown into the trash for pick-up. And when you dispose of prescription medicine bottles, be sure to remove any personal identifying information before throwing them away.
For more information please visit: SafeDrugDisposal