If you are like most people, you might have some leftover, unopened, or unused medications in the house. Promptly disposing of unneeded medications can help prevent accidental exposure of family members – even the furry kind – to harm.

Nearly 60,000 children in the United States are accidentally poisoned by medicines each year. At the same time, more than 4 in 10 teens who have misused or abused a prescription drug took it from their parent’s medicine cabinet at least once.

If you need to get rid of expired, unused or dangerous medication, follow one of these methods to keep your family and community safe.


This is the safest and best way to ensure that medications will be disposed of properly, and not end up in our water sources or soil. You can easily find a secure drop-off location near you at www.takebackyourmeds.org. Drop-boxes are located throughout Washington at participating retail pharmacies, hospital and clinic pharmacies, and law enforcement offices. You can also ask your pharmacy if they take back unused medications. Most prescription and over-the-counter medicines are accepted unless specified, though not all pharmacies accept controlled substances such as pain medications.


If a drop off location is not available to you, mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, cat litter or used coffee grounds. Place the mixture in a container, such as a sealed plastic bag, and put it in your household trash. Remove all personal information on prescription labels, then dispose of the container.

For a complete list visit www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/


Sources: Food and Drug Administration, Washington Poison Control, SafeKids.org, Washington Health Alliance