Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday's 3 Rs -- Medications

Did you ever wonder what you should do with expired medications, or medications you are no longer taking? Flush them, right? Wrong! Dump them in the trash, right? Wrong! Leave them in your medicine cabinet and let your kids deal with them after you're dead. Well, I guess that could be an option.

Here's the thing -- prescription and over-the-counter drugs can leach into the ground water, as well as pose a potential risk of ingestion for curious kids and animals who may be attracted to the yummy candy-like appearance of a rainbow of pills and capsules.

So, what do you do?

Well, ideally, you take all your people (and pet) meds to a collection event close to you. Call your local municipal building and ask if a Take Back event is scheduled in your town.

You can also check with your local pharmacies and see if any of them have a safe disposal method for your expired prescriptions.

If there is not an event coming up and you can't find a pharmacy that takes your meds, you can still clean out your medicine chest by throwing the meds in the trash. However, you must be careful how you do this.

First, open bottles and dump contents (pills, capsules and liquid) into a sturdy Ziploc-type bag. Add a little bit of water to help the pills dissolve. Next, add some cat litter or coffee grounds to make the concoction less appealing to curious children or scavenging critters. Seal the bag and throw it in the trash.

Remove your name and any identifying information from the bottle and recycle it.

There, that's not too complicated. Ideally, you want to keep these toxins out of the landfill, but if you don't have another alternative, this is the best way to go.

The FDA released a list of meds that are safe to flush down the toilet. If this is the method you choose, pay strict attention to the following list. Do not add any meds to this list, unless the bottle specifically indicates that the drug may be flushed!


This list from FDA tells you what expired, unwanted, or unused medicines you should flush down the sink or toilet to help prevent danger to people and pets in the home. Flushing these medicines will get rid of them right away and help keep your family and pets safe.

FDA continually evaluates medicines for safety risks and will update the list as needed.

Medicine  --  Active Ingredient

Actiq, oral transmucosal lozenge *  --  Fentanyl Citrate

Avinza, capsules (extended release)  --  Morphine Sulfate

Daytrana, transdermal patch system  --  Methylphenidate

Demerol, tablets *  --  Meperidine Hydrochloride

Demerol, oral solution *  --  Meperidine Hydrochloride

Diastat/Diastat AcuDial, rectal gel  --  Diazepam

Dilaudid, tablets *  --  Hydromorphone Hydrochloride

Dilaudid, oral liquid *  --  Hydromorphone Hydrochloride

Dolophine Hydrochloride, tablets *  --  Methadone Hydrochloride

Duragesic, patch (extended release) *  --  Fentanyl

Embeda, capsules (extended release)  --  Morphine Sulfate; Naltrexone Hydrochloride

Exalgo, tablets (extended release)  --  Hydromorphone Hydrochloride

Fentora, tablets (buccal)  --  Fentanyl Citrate

Kadian, capsules (extended release)  --  Morphine Sulfate

Methadone Hydrochloride, oral solution *  --  Methadone Hydrochloride
Methadose, tablets *  --  Methadone Hydrochloride

Morphine Sulfate, tablets (immediate release) *  --  Morphine Sulfate

Morphine Sulfate, oral solution *  --  Morphine Sulfate

MS Contin, tablets (extended release) *  --  Morphine Sulfate

Onsolis, soluble film (buccal)  --  Fentanyl Citrate

Opana, tablets (immediate release)  --  Oxymorphone Hydrochloride

Opana ER, tablets (extended release)  --  Oxymorphone Hydrochloride

Oramorph SR, tablets (sustained release)  --  Morphine Sulfate

Oxycontin, tablets (extended release) *  --  Oxycodone Hydrochloride

Percocet, tablets *  --  Acetaminophen; Oxycodone Hydrochloride

Percodan, tablets *  --  Aspirin; Oxycodone Hydrochloride

Xyrem, oral solution  --  Sodium Oxybate

*These medicines have generic versions available or are only available in generic formulations.

So, the next time you are about to toss some pills in the trash or flush a medication down the toilet, check back here first. There is a proper way to do it and when you care about the environment and the future of your children and grandchildren, it's definitely worth the effort to do it right!

Keeping it out of the landfill (as much as possible),



  1. Thanks for writting this one! I honestly have dumped the drugs in the trash and recycled the bottle. I'm happy to see that the safe way to throw them away is easy to do!!

  2. Me, too. Friday's 3Rs are more for me than anyone. I just share what I learn : )


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