Drug Disposal: Drug Take Back Options
The best way to safely dispose of most types of unused or expired medicines
Medicine take back options are the best way to safely dispose of unused or expired prescription and nonprescription (for example, over the counter) medicines.
Before disposing of prescription medicines, be sure to remove all personal information on pill bottle labels and medicine packaging. All of your medicines dropped off at the take back locations will be destroyed.
There are generally two kinds of take back options:
- Permanent collection sites (see below for more information about these sites)
Note that all medicines dropped off at these locations will be destroyed. If you are interested in donating your medication, please see our QA on this topic.
Some facilities and businesses are registered with the U.S. DEA to collect your unused or expired medicines. Find an authorized drug collection site near you or call the DEA Diversion Control Division Registration Call Center at 1-800-882-9539 for more information about these collection sites.
These collection sites safely and securely gather and dispose of your unused or expired medicines, including those that contain controlled substances. In your community, authorized collection sites may be retail, hospital, or clinic pharmacies; and/or law enforcement facilities. These collection sites may offer on-site medicine drop-off boxes; mail back programs; or other in-home disposal methods to assist you in safely disposing of your unused or expired medicines.
Lastly, you can go to Google Maps and type in "drug disposal near me" or "medication disposal near me" to find your nearest drug disposal site.
Medicines with Specific Disposal Instructions
For safety reasons, there are a few, select medicines with specific instructions to immediately flush down the toilet only if a drug take back option is not readily available. For more details, refer to the FDA’s flush list.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) periodically hosts National Prescription Drug Take Back events. During these Drug Take Back Days, temporary drug collection sites are set up in communities nationwide for safe disposal of prescription drugs.
Local law enforcement agencies may also sponsor medicine take back events in your community. You can also contact your local waste management authorities to learn about events in your area.