Best Way to Dispose of Extra Antibiotics

Updated on November 13, 2009
A.S. asks from Flourtown, PA
17 answers

I gave the kids as much pink medicine as they were supposed to have, but I still have some left over. Does anyone know the best way to get rid of it? Flush it, trash it, rinse it down the sink? My concerns are mostly environmental, wouldn't want my extra amoxicillan to find it's way into our drinking water or poison any fish.

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.G.

answers from Philadelphia on

They recommend that any

extra pills are crushed --if liquid, skip this step
mixed with coffee grounds or cat litter
then put in 2 sealed ziplock bags
thrown in the trash

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

H.F.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Just throw it in the trash. If you put it down the drain (either directly or by flushing), some of it will end up in the local water system. They just did a big story on this about a month ago. Several large cities have trace amounts of quite a few drugs in them because of people flushing or dumping them down the drain. (To get even more technical, some of it is actually from human excrement as well.) So the big thing in the news story was about not dumping it down the drain.

Anyhow, hope this helps.

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.

answers from Philadelphia on

Hi A.,
The most environmentally safe way to dispose of any medicines is to mix the antibiotic in with some used coffee grounds or something equally nasty, in a ziploc or its original container if it has a childproof top and throw in the trash. That way, nobody (or no animal) will mess with it, and it won't enter the water system as it would if you threw it down the drain. You're right, if it goes down the drain, then it will end up in the water, and will poison fish and other little water creatures. Even the trace elements that we don't react to, have a huge affect on small invertebrates and are passed up the food chain. It's best to keep all pharmaceuticals out of the water system.

I'm an environmental educator/writer and my husband works for the local water company. This is what they are suggesting that we do.
Thanks for caring!
L.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.R.

answers from Pittsburgh on

A.,
You should call the pharmacy where you got the medicine. You shouldn't have any left over. They are carefully measured out so the whole bottle should be empty. If they did put to much in then they should be able to tell you how to get rid of it properly.
L.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.M.

answers from Allentown on

I read you should mix it with coffee grounds and seal it in a plastic bag.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.G.

answers from York on

A.,

I always have that problem too. The volume of medicine dispensed to us is always more than what is required, and our Pharmacist makes it a point to mention that to us each time.

You may have already followed the advice of another response so I wanted to mention that Denise P's response is the most accurate. Also, no matter what the drug (or what form), never flush anything down the drain, or toilet. It will not get filtered out of the water.

Best to check with your local pharmacy first, then proceed with the disposal procedure described here if they are not able to dispose of it for you.

Blessings,
Rolinda

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

T.T.

answers from Harrisburg on

Hi:

What a great question- too often we flush our medicines without thinking of the environment. Check with the pharmacy where you got the medication- some offer 'safe disposal.' If not, a better bet would be to trash it as it saves it from going directly into the drinking water.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

H.F.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Just throw it in the trash. If you put it down the drain (either directly or by flushing), some of it will end up in the local water system. They just did a big story on this about a month ago. Several large cities have trace amounts of quite a few drugs in them because of people flushing or dumping them down the drain. (To get even more technical, some of it is actually from human excrement as well.) So the big thing in the news story was about not dumping it down the drain.

Anyhow, hope this helps.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.G.

answers from Philadelphia on

They recommend that any

extra pills are crushed --if liquid, skip this step
mixed with coffee grounds or cat litter
then put in 2 sealed ziplock bags
thrown in the trash

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.W.

answers from Philadelphia on

I would hang onto the extra antibiotics (keep refridgerated)....if you check with the pharmacy they are probably good for another 6 months....and your doctor is likely to prescribe the same thing at some point, so you could use what you have left over before starting a new prescription. Otherwise, ask your pharmacist if they have a program for disposing of medications.
J. W

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.K.

answers from Allentown on

Any leftover medicines can be returned to any pharmacy. They should have containers for medical waste and will properly dispose of it.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.S.

answers from Reading on

Yes, I agree with the first response, you should dispose of the medicine in the trash. Do NOT put it down the sink or in the toilet.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.M.

answers from Philadelphia on

The best thing to do is mix with coffee grounds or kitty litter and throw out with the trash. The same with pills/capsules, just smash them up first.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

I.C.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I would mix it with some hard candy -- boost your kids immune system year round!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

R.S.

answers from York on

from my experience, you are supposed to finish all antibiotics until they are gone (even if it's 11 days instead of 10... sometimes what you use to measure the meds can be a little off) if it were me i'd call the doc to be positive (unless you did that of course! then i don't have an answer for you :-)

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.P.

answers from Allentown on

That is an excellent question & one that I have never even thought about before!
I would guess that by flushing it or pooring it down the drain that it would end up in the sewage treatment facility, where it would be treated (which is why it's so much better to flush poop from diapers than to throw it away!) & not contaminate the ground water.

That's really just a guess though based on what I know about diaper waste more than anything else! :-)
A.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi A.,
Here are some guidelines for disposing of medicine:

Dispose of the waste in household trash.
Keep products in their original containers. Pharmaceutical container caps are typically watertight and child proof.
Add a small amount of water to a solid drug or some absorbent material such as kitty litter, sawdust or flour, to liquid drugs before recapping to discourage any unintended use of the drug.
Double seal the container in another container or heavy bag to prevent easy identification of the drug container or to prevent a glass container from breaking.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

E.S.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I just read the responses and agree with some of them and strongly disagree with another. Yes, you should trash it. Scratch out the label or black it out to remove any personal information, then keep the med in the bottle and throw it away. Amoxicillin is an antibiotic (as you already know), the chances of someone messing with it after disposal is nil, and if they mess with it, maybe it'll do them some good! I agree that if you have other medicine, such as cough syrup, pain medicine or perhaps anything for ADHD or anxiety you should definitely follow the advice of putting coffee grounds or something else that will definitely make it "unworthy" of stealing and then pitch it. I have to say, though, that I strongly disagree with the advice of keeping the extra in case you need it later on, or taking everything that's in the bottle, even if it's past the prescribed time. I'm a pharmacist, and I get really irritated every time someone does something like this. Don't ever keep extra antibiotics because first, if they are in a suspension they have a limited shelf life (usually 2 weeks after mixing), and second if your daughter gets sick again the MD may want to prescribe something else because there's a chance that the amoxicillin didn't work fully. As far as emptying the bottle, big no-no! The dose prescribed, especially for kids, is usually weight or age based, and anything extra could potentially harm your child. Often times a full bottle is dispensed because that's what the insurance paid for, even when half or 3/4 of a bottle only is needed. To dispense less than what is paid for, and possibly use the rest on another patient, is insurance fraud, and the companies are starting to crack down. So don't save it, and don't finish it off if you're not supposed to.

Next question: What to Do with Old Med's?