Skip to content

Prescription and Veterinary Medicine Disposal

Unused, unwanted, or expired medicines including veterinary medicines are potentially harmful to animals, people, or the environment and must be safely disposed of to ensure others do not find and use the medication. Below are options for safe disposal:

Drug Take Back Programs

Many local police departments and state trooper offices offer free drug take back programs. Contact your local office to determine if they have a program. Separately, the US DEA maintains has an online Search For an Authorized Collector Location feature to find an authorized collection site near you.

US DEA also hosts the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day each April and October. During the one-day event, there are many local options for free disposal.


Your local pharmacy may accept unused medicines for safe disposal or have information on mail-back options. If you have unused veterinary medicines, your veterinarian’s pharmacy may accept it as well.

Disposal at Home

When a take back program is not readily available, there are two options for disposing of medicines at home, depending on the drug.

Throw It in the Trash

All medicines, except those on the FDA flush list (below), can be thrown away in your household trash. These include prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Steps for disposal:

  1. Remove from their original container and mix with something undesirable such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter. It makes it less appealing to kids and pets and unrecognizable to someone who might intentionally go through trash looking for drugs.
  2. Put the mixture in something you can close (zipper storage bag, empty can, etc.) to prevent the drug from leaking or spilling.
  3. Throw the container in the trash.
  4. Scratch out all your personal information on the empty medicine packaging to protect your identity and privacy. Throw the packaging away.

Flush Certain Medicines Down the Drain

Certain medicines are especially harmful to others and have specific directions to immediately flush them down the drain when they are no longer needed and a take back option is not readily available. Check US FDA’s list of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing.

Print Version (PDF)

external link indicator Indicates an external site.