Do you have questions about how to safely dispose of prescription medication? Or maybe you’re wondering if those expired pills are still safe to take?

The information in our Frequently Asked Questions section has the answers you’re looking for.

Why can’t I use expired medications?

The expiration on your medication signifies the date at which the drug manufacturer can continue to guarantee the safety and potency of the medication. Expired medications may be weaker due to decomposition or evaporation of ingredients, and they may even be unsafe.

Are there any medicines that should be flushed?

The FDA has noted that a limited number of controlled substances, due to the danger of diversion, should be immediately flushed if they have expired or are to go unused. The list of medicines that should be flushed, according to the FDA, is listed here.

Why is it important to properly dispose of medicine?

Prescription medicine helps many in the United States live fuller, healthier lives. But those medications must be properly disposed of to help keep our communities healthy and safe. Proper drug disposal combats drug abuse, drug diversion, accidental ingestion and poisoning, and contributes to a cleaner environment.

Where can I go to drop off old prescription medication?

The American Medicine Chest Challenge drop-off search tool can help you find the nearest community disposal center in your area.

What if there isn’t a community disposal site in my area?

We recommend using the in-home disposal method to safely dispose of your old medications quickly and easily!

Where should I store my medication?

Medication should be stored in a cool, dry location. If you keep them in the kitchen, make sure they are kept far away from places like the stove, the sink, hot appliances or the windowsill. Do not store medication in the refrigerator unless specifically directed by your pharmacist.

Remember, medication should be stored securely to prevent accidental ingestion or misuse.

You may choose to lock your medicines up or simply keep them out of reach of children or teenagers.

What is drug diversion?

Drug diversion is the use of prescription drugs for recreational purposes or purposes other than its prescribed use. The term comes from the idea that the drug has been “diverted” from its original purpose.

Should I be worried about medicines in the water?

Scientific studies conducted to date have not indicated any appreciable risk to human health from the trace amounts of pharmaceuticals being measured in surface waters. The amount of medicines detected has been very small – the equivalent of a single cube of sugar dissolved in two and a half million gallons of water (about four Olympic-size swimming pools). Additionally, the trace amounts measured are attributable to patient use and excretion, not disposal. This occurs when medicines pass through the human body without being metabolized completely and make their way to surface waters through municipal wastewater treatment systems.

Okay, I want to do my part and help get the word out! How can I help?

Thank you so much! We truly believe that safe medicine use and disposal is an important community issue. You can help us spread the word by sharing our animation video and likingfollowing and pinning us on social media. 

Where can I get more information about PhRMA’s policy on prescription drug abuse and disposal?

You can visit PhRMA’s website for more information about our policies.