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Drug safety

How to dispose of leftover medications

Do you know how to properly dispose of prescription medication?

The Postal Service is joining with the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency to make sure employees know how to safely dispose of their prescription medications.

If no disposal instructions are provided on the prescription drug label and no prescription drug take-back program is available in your area, then follow these steps to throw the drugs in the household trash:

• Remove the medicine from its original container. Mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, to make it less appealing to children or pets.

• Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty bag or other container. This will prevent medicine from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.

Don’t flush medicines down the sink or toilet unless the prescription drug label or patient information that accompanied the medicine instructs you to do so.

Some communities prohibit flushing of medications, so check before discarding medications in the sink or toilet.

After disposing of medications, scratch out all identifying information on the label. This will protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.

Remember: Do not share your leftover prescription drugs with others — they were prescribed to you.

A recent Postal Service stand-up talk, available on the Safety Toolkit website, highlights these and other tips.

More information about disposing unused medication is available on the Food and Drug Administration website.

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