Skip to content

Prescription and Veterinary Medicine Disposal

Unused, unwanted or expired medication including veterinary medications are potentially harmful to animals, people, or the environment and must be carefully disposed of to ensure others do not find and use the medication. In addition, proper disposal will minimize the potential adverse environmental effects to water resources, as well as domestic animals and wildlife, which may occur if these medications are incorrectly disposed. Here are some of your disposal options:

Return Human Medications to the Pharmacy, Hospital or Physician’s Office
Many pharmacies will accept unwanted medications for safe disposal. Contact your local pharmacy to determine options. In some cases, pharmacies, hospitals and doctor’s offices have information for mail-back programs with envelopes available for a fee that can be used for disposal of medicines. This is an environmentally safe and preferred method of disposal.
Return Veterinary Medicines to the Veterinarian’s Office or Clinic
Most veterinary clinics will accept unwanted veterinary medicines for safe disposal. Contact the veterinary clinic that you obtained the medicine from to determine if they will accept the medication. Disposal through the veterinary clinic is the best method of disposal.
Prescription Drug Take-Back Programs
Many law enforcement agencies in Alaska offer free prescription drug and over-the-counter (OTC) medicine drop-off programs. Contact your local law enforcement or state trooper office for local drop-off locations. You can also contact the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Registration Call Center at 800-882-9539 or the online Search Utility to find a registered collection receptacle near you. You can also find the next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day online.
Throw It in the Trash - Don’t Flush It Down the Toilet or a Drain
ADEC prefers that when possible, people should take advantage of take-back programs. However, if that option is not available, most unused or expired medication can be thrown out with the garbage. To help ensure that discarded medications actually get to the landfill, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends removing the discarded medication from its container and mixing it with “undesirable substances” such as coffee grounds, mustard, or kitty litter. Also, concealing the medication inside other containers will help prevent others from finding and using it. ADEC recommends removing the label or other identifying information before disposing of empty prescription medicine containers.
FDA Recommends Some Medications be Flushed Down the Toilet
As a general rule, ADEC prefers that medications are disposed through a take-back program, or if not available, in the trash as described above. However, there are certain medications that can be especially harmful to a child, pet or anyone else if taken accidentally. You should take extra care that these medications are disposed of in a safe manner. These medications should only be disposed through a take-back program or by being flushed down the toilet and not disposed in the trash. You can find a link to these medicines at FDA's website.