VHA National Center for Patient Safety
Medication Disposal Safety Tips
To keep you and your family safe, get unwanted/unneeded medications out of your home! VA can help you safely dispose of expired or unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. You can prevent drug misuse, abuse, and accidental poisonings. Make a difference by following these safety tips
- KEEP medications out of the sight and reach of children and pets
- AVOID taking medications in front of children, since they tend to mimic adults
- NEVER give your medications to anyone else or take someone else's medications
- STORE your medications in a secure area
- CHECK the date on everything in your medicine cabinet and dispose of anything that has passed the expiration date
- DISPOSE of any medication that you have not used in the past 12 months
- DISPOSE of any prescription medications you no longer need
- ASK your pharmacist about the proper way to store you medications
- KEEP medications in the original container
- NEVER combine different medications into one bottle
- DO NOT store medications in places that are hot and humid
Why should I remove unwanted medications from my home?
If you remove these medications from your home, you reduce the chance of taking them by accident and poisoning, especially for children. Removing them also reduces the risk of taking the wrong drug by mistake.
How should I safely dispose of my unwanted medications?
Don't flush unwanted, unneeded drugs down toilets or drains or throw them out in the trash. This can harm the water supply and wildlife. Your VA now has envelopes that you can use to mail your unwanted medications for disposal that is safe for the environment. These envelopes are free and do not require postage. Remember to read the directions and never place syringes in the envelope or receptacle. Your VA may also have a receptacle where you can deposit your unwanted medications. If you accidentally place drugs in the receptacle, VA cannot retrieve them or return them to you. Check with your VA Pharmacist on which option is available at your VA facility.
The DEA Website can also help you locate an on-site receptacle in your community. Click Here for the DEA Site
Who can I talk to if I am unsure about how to properly dispose of medications that I don't need or want?
Ask your VA pharmacist how to safely dispose of your medications. If you are unsure of what drugs to dispose of, you can review your medications with your VA pharmacist to find out which medications you should no longer take.
The VA has standardized the prescribing and dispensing of U-500 insulin at VA facilities according to Institute for Safe Medication Practices guidelines. We hope the educational material we present here will provide you with a brief introduction to the use of U-500 insulin. But the material is an introduction only, if you are a diabetic patient please ensure that you discuss each of your prescriptions thoroughly with your doctor.