Proper drug disposal is important because it helps protect human health and our environment. Unwanted drugs should not be flushed down the drain. Medications should be kept secure when in the home to prevent unlawful use and regularly disposed using the steps shared in our drug disposal EGLE Minute YouTube video and Save a Life card. When drugs are no longer needed, they should be taken to a collection for incineration to destroy the chemicals within them and prevent them from entering the water resources we use for drinking water. If this is not available, follow the instructions provided to dispose of them in the trash.
Over the last decade, prescription drug abuse and accidental death from drug abuse has skyrocketed. Over the last several decades, studies have shown that pharmaceuticals persist at low levels in our surface water and ground water. Although there are no known health risks to people, there are known impacts to amphibians, fish, wildlife, and bacteria. Without improvements in disposal and wastewater treatment technologies, the level of pharmaceuticals in our water is expected to increase as more and more people continue to take more and more medications.
For more details on proper disposal of unwanted medications from households and healthcare, please see the resources below.
Household Drug Disposal
- Is my Medication a Controlled Substance?
- Save a Life - Dispose of Drugs Safely Card (web)
- Save a Life - Dispose of Drug Safely Card (print ready)
- LARA Prescription Drug Utilization Program
- Drug Take Back Map Flyer (print ready)
- Drug Take Back Map Ad (image for web or print)
- State of Michigan Opioid Crisis Help (print ready)
Non-Household Drug Disposal
- Handling Unwanted Pharmaceuticals and their Containers in Health Care
- Recorded Webinar on Existing and Proposed Pharmaceutical Waste Regulations
- UPDATED Webinar Notes Reflecting Proposed and Final Federal Rules for Pharmaceutical Waste
- Starting August 21: New National Rules for Healthcare Governing Pharmaceutical Disposal
- MHA Healthcare Pharmaceutical Waste Management Guide
- MHA Guide Example Pharmaceutical Posting
- Universal Waste Guidance
- 10 Steps to Developing a Pharmaceutical Waste Program
- Selecting a Transporters or Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs)
- Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal Vendor List
- Epinephrine Auto-Injector Disposal Guide
- USEPA Final Rule: Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals
- USEPA Hazardous Waste Pharmaceutical Rulemaking FAQ
- USEPA Pharmaceutical Characterization Wiki Archive
- DHHS Stop Drug Abuse Web page with Prescriber Resources
- USEPA Memo on Drug Take Back Program Requirements
- Household and Very Small Quantity Generators Hazardous Waste Collection Center Resources
- OPEN - Physician Resources to Prevent Unwanted Medications and Drug Abuse
- Database of U.S. EPA literature on pharmaceutical and personal care & product (PPCPs) and their impact on human health, the environmental, and safety
- Prescription Drugs Consumer Alert