This question and answer section provides additional details on drug disposal options and why FDA recommends flushing certain potentially dangerous medicines only when take back options are not readily available.
Almost all medicines can be safely disposed of through drug take back programs or using U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) authorized collectors.
When these options are not immediately available, consumers may also dispose of most unwanted medicine in their trash at home.
If the prescription medicine is on the flush list and a DEA authorized collector or drug take back program is not immediately available for drop off, FDA recommends that these medicines be disposed of by flushing.
The prescription medicines on the flush list contain controlled substances and are especially harmful if taken accidentally by someone other than the patient. These medicines should not be thrown in the trash because this method may still provide an opportunity for a child or pet to accidentally take the medicine.
Follow this link to get information on the proper way to dispose of sharps (needles, syringes, and lancets).
First, check with the health care management team in your community or hospice to find out the best way to dispose of unused or unwanted medicines.
If you learn that you are responsible for disposal of these medicines, follow the directions below:
- The preferred method of medicine disposal is a drug take back option.
- If these options are not readily available, check to see if your medicine is on the flush list. If it is, you should dispose of it by flushing it down the toilet. These flush list medications are potentially dangerous and should not be disposed of in the trash.
- If your medicine is not on the flush list, you can follow these instructions to dispose of in the trash at home.
Some opioid products with uncommon dosage forms (e.g., sprays, lozenges) have product-specific disposal instructions. Review the instructions that came with your prescription or contact your health care professional (e.g., pharmacist, doctor) to find out how to properly dispose of these medicines.
The few, select medicines recommended for disposal by flushing are safe and effective when used as prescribed but they could be especially harmful to children, pets, or others if taken accidentally. Some of the possible harmful effects include breathing difficulties or heart problems, which could lead to death.
For these reasons, FDA recommends that when it is not possible to immediately drop off these medicines at a drug take back program or a DEA authorized collector, consumers should flush them down the toilet to immediately and permanently remove this risk from their home.
We believe that the risk of harm from accidental exposure to this small, select list of medicines far outweighs any potential risk to the environment that may come from disposal by flushing. FDA continues to work with and encourage manufacturers of these medicines to develop alternative, safe disposal systems as reducing this risk is of our utmost concern.
Accidental exposure to medicine in the home is a major source of unintentional pediatric poisonings in the United States. Each year in the United States, approximately 60,000 emergency department (ED) visits 1,2 and 450,000 calls to poison centers 3 are made after children under 6 years of age find and ingest medication without caregiver oversight. Over two-thirds of ED visits for accidental pediatric medication exposures involve 1- or 2- year old children and nearly 20% result in hospitalization 1.
Keeping medicines after they are no longer needed creates an unnecessary health risk in the home, especially if there are children present. Even child resistant containers cannot completely prevent a child from taking medicines that belong to someone else. In a study that looked at cases of accidental child exposure to a grandparent's medicine, 45% of cases involved medicines stored in child-resistant containers 3.
Cases of inadvertent exposure to some of these medicines were published in the American Association of Poison Control Centers' 2016 annual report 4. Below are two case summaries to illustrate how some medicines can result in death if they are accidentally taken by children.
- A 2 year old female was seen drinking an unknown liquid from a stray plastic bottle. The next day she was lethargic, later that day her parents found her unresponsive with labored breathing, and transported her to the emergency department (ED). The child arrived to the ED in cardiac arrest, pupils were fixed and dilated. Laboratory/diagnostic findings: Urine drug screen (UDS) was positive for methadone. Head CT was consistent with anoxic brain injury. She was determined to be brain dead after a 10 day clinical course.
- A 15 month old female was found with a buprenorphine/naloxone film wrapper in her mouth. Her mother removed it and took her to the ED where she remained asymptomatic for 4 hours. A UDS was negative for opiates and she was discharged. She was found at home, 5 hours later, in cardiac arrest. EMS began CPR and transported to the ED. In the ED, she was intubated and received naloxone and epinephrine. CPR was continued for 1 hour, but she died.
FDA is aware of reports of very low, but measurable levels of medicines in surface waters such as rivers and streams, and to a lesser extent in drinking water. To date, scientists have found no evidence of harmful effects to human health from medicines in the environment.
The majority of medicines found in water are a result of the body's natural routes of drug elimination (in urine or feces). Disposal of these few, select medicines by flushing, which is encouraged only when drug take back options are not readily available, would only contribute a small fraction of the total amount of medicine found in our surface and drinking water.
Based on the available data, FDA believes that the known risk of harm to humans from accidental exposure to these medicines far outweighs any potential risk to human health or the environment from flushing these medicines.
FDA works with other agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to better understand the human health and environmental risks from medicines in our water. In addition, FDA continues to work with and encourage manufacturers of these medicines to develop safe, alternative disposal systems.
This depends on which state you live in. There are some online resources that may help you determine whether pharmaceutical donation and reuse programs exist in your state. It should be noted that most state programs do not accept controlled substances.
Here is a question and answer sheet about donating drugs for international humanitarian relief.
Yes, please see our Consumer Update: How to Dispose of Unused Medicines.
Multi-dose packs are provided without additional cost. To align prescriptions on a 30 days cycle, one or more additional copays may be required by your plan. Your pharmacist will discuss if necessary.
Yes. We fill and bill all medications on the same day. We will adjust your filling day to the date that is easiest for you to pay. Please let us know your preference.
Please notify YFCC Pharmacy of ANY changes made by your health care provider as soon as possible to ensure your order is accurate and ready on time. Prior to filing your packs each month, we will also complete a check-in call with you to confirm your current medications and address any needed changes.
Yes. As a caregiver, you can sign up on behalf of the person you're caring for.
Yes. We can easily include over-the-counter medications in your packs as long as they have been prescribed to you. They can be transferred easily or we can request a prescription for your over-the-counter medication directly from your physician.
1 to 2 day delivery is available at YFCC Pharmacy. Delivery within hours is currently available in 10-mile (called "on-demand delivery" at checkout). Options available in your area will be displayed during checkout.
Shipping is free every day for orders with an order value of $75 or more per shipping address. No promotion code required.
For orders with an order value of $74.99 or less, we offer the low flat rate of $5 per shipping address.
Order value is your merchandise total after a promotion is applied or other discounts are subtracted. Excludes personalization, gift boxing, shipping, taxes and gift cards.
If you requested 1 to 2 day delivery:
No. You don't need to be home. The delivery will be left in your mailbox or at a safe place at your delivery address. If no safe location is available, the package will be held at the local post office for up to 15 days, and you will need to either call for a redelivery or pick up the package at the post office. After 15 days, prescription orders will be returned to the pharmacy and you will have to call the pharmacy to have the prescription refilled. Additional delivery fees may apply to redelivery. If your order doesn't arrive as expected, call your local pharmacy.
If you requested on-demand delivery or same-day delivery:
Yes. If someone isn't home, the courier will return your prescription order to the pharmacy. Additional delivery fees may apply to redelivery.
Customers receiving delivery will be required to sign for delivery. In some cases, ID will also be required.
Your home or a location of your choice. The delivery address must be in the same state as the pharmacy. We require a residential address for prescription delivery.
Some insurance plans cover delivery fees. Many more, including Medicare Part D plans, do not. You'll pay the fee at checkout when you request delivery.
Advance payment is required. Your credit, debit, flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) card information can be entered at checkout.
If you plan to call the store to place your order, check here first to save your payment information to your account. In most cases, FSA/HSA cards may not be used for delivery fees.