Donating Unused Medication?

Updated on April 09, 2011
M.O. asks from Barrington, IL
12 answers

Does anyone know of a place where I can donate an open bottle of unused prescription medication and a sealed bottle of unused medication legally? I hate to see it wasted.

I've already called my drs office, the local hospital and the county health dept and no one knew of anything.
NOTE: these are not pain killers or addictive drugs, it's thyroid hormones. So no "druggie" is going to dumpster dive for them. ;)

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answers from San Francisco on

If they don't know of anywhere then it needs to be disposed of properly. I know of places that take unused medical supplies and equipment, we donated 5 or 6 large boxes of tons of medical supplies but they didn't take prescriptions.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I am like you and hate see it wasted but noone I know needed it. I called a pharmacy to see if I could take it there to dispose of it cause the flushing isn't an option. They told me to just add some water to the container to make it all go mush. I figure you can still use it to a point even if it is a big glob so I thought of adding something to it in addition...toothpaste, dirt, cat litter, flour, get the idea. I hate the idea of wasting it but I hate the idea of it getting in the wrong hands even more or getting people sick from flushing it or putting it down the sink cause it gets in the water. Good luck. Also remove the label on your bottle if you leave it in that. That way noone will know what it is. Mine peel off but you could soak in water, use nailpolish remover... to destroy the writing if it doesn't peel off.

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answers from Minneapolis on


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answers from Atlanta on

Most of these answers are ill informed. If you do enough internet research, you will find that 37 states have donation progams. I found those within the first 10 minutes of searching. There are restrictions and the criteria for the donation is strict. Yes, it is illegal to provide these medications to another individual. Yes, it is bad to simply flush medications and contaminate our water supply. You may also donate unused prescriptions to The Starfish Project, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, 119 West 24 Street, NY NY 10011. They use these medications in deserving 3rd world countries. Their web site is currently down but you can find them on the KnowHow web page. Hope this helps you.


answers from New York on

It is such an unfortunate waste but for safety reasons you cannot donate used medications even if the bottle has never been opened. To dispose, dissolve in small amount of water then pour onto to a paper towel or coffee filter that has coffee grounds on it or some other mixture that someone's pet will not eat if they get into the garbage. Pouring them down the toilet contaminates the environment.



answers from St. Louis on

In my area of St Louis, MO they recently started a Prescription Take-Back program sponsored by the local police departments. Try contacting your local law enforcement agency and if they don't offer such a program maybe you could pass along the following link so they could start a similar program.
The first one in our area was last fall and they had so much response that they have already had 3 dates this year when we can go to the local police department and drop off expired, unused prescription drugs. Each time they are collecting even more as the word spreads about the program.



answers from Tampa on

As far as I know it can not be legally done



answers from Indianapolis on

You really won't be able to find any place that can legally take it. You may want to call some churches to see if they're sponsoring any missions - I used to have physicians who were active in their churches call me often looking for medications they could take to central America, etc. for their mission trips.

Even physician's offices have to dispose of expired samples as biohazard waste.

When I was laid off (pharmaceutical sales) last year, I had ~$40K in samples that were completely good to use and were all destroyed because the safety couldn't be guaranteed with all the people being laid off and how long product might be sitting around.

Good luck. It's very honorable, but there may also be FDA restrictions (you may want to check



answers from St. Cloud on

Your best bet is to dispose of the medication. It's illegal to share prescription meds and if the professional offices didn't know where you could donate it, then I would not attempt to donate the meds.

*Note......I know that people commonly flush meds to dispose of them, but flushing meds puts that medication back into our water supply. Best to let the pharmacy guide you in this process.



answers from Augusta on

I don't think you can. Nursing homes throw out gallons of that stuff when their residents die.



answers from Chicago on

Regarding the disposal of meds, most of it should not be flushed or thrown in the trash. If you return it to the pharmacy where you got it, they will dispose of it for you. Otherwise, try taking everything to Costco. My local Costco will take any and all drugs, regardless of where you bought them. Call ahead to make sure though.



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi Mom on the go...I see some post suggesting some meds may be flushed, however my BIL works for water reclamation here in LV and says no medication should be flushed. It contaminates our water. I tried to call our sanitation department and they didn't entertain the idea of taking it either, they said they do have a department but it had to be a lot...nonsense! They should take it, but they didn't seem interested in the bag full I had. We added water and coffee grains. Animals don't like the acids in the coffee. As well, I asked my doctors office and they had no suggestions. Makes you wonder what they do with their expired samples.

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