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Medication Disposal

Patient picking up their prescription from pharmacist.

When medication expires or is no longer needed, you need to get rid of it correctly. Even expired medications can pose a poisoning danger to children and pets. Furthermore, improper disposal of medicine can have harmful effects on the environment.

The best way to get rid of medications is by contacting a medication takeback program or taking them to a medication disposal site. To find a medication takeback program or disposal drop box in your area, call 800-222-1222, visit DEATakeBack.com or use RxDrugDropbox.org.

Pharmacist looking at a bottle of pills.

Do not mail any used, unused or prescription waste back to The University of Kansas Health System Pharmacy. Do not flush medications down the toilet unless it has a label directing you to do so. Follow specific steps, outlined below, to ensure safety if you throw them away in your household trash.

General medication waste

The University of Kansas Health System provides 3 conveniently located medication disposal drop boxes inside the following pharmacies:

Westwood Medical Pavilion
2650 Shawnee Mission Pkwy., Suite 2201
Westwood, KS 66205

The University of Kansas Hospital Bell Hospital Tower
4000 Cambridge St.
Kansas City, KS 66160

Indian Creek Campus
10710 Nall Ave., Suite 1301
Overland Park, KS 66211

These large, blue medication disposal containers are available during pharmacy hours of operation and can be used for most medications apart from hazardous and injectable medication waste.

Liquid or gel medications should be 4 ounces or less and placed in a sealed plastic bag before disposal.

If you have questions, contact the pharmacy team at 913-588-2361 or email MyRPh@KUMC.edu.

Hazardous medication waste

If the prescription you are disposing of is hazardous, it will be labeled on the prescription bottle as such. We provide 4 designated hazardous medication disposal locations separate from the blue medication disposal bins. At these locations, you will need to give your medication to the pharmacy staff to dispose of in a bin behind the counter.

Our takeback program does not accept sharp items, such as needles or glass containers, medical devices, batteries or aerosol containers, such as inhalers.

Westwood Medical Pavilion
2650 Shawnee Mission Pkwy., Suite 2201
Westwood, KS 66205

The University of Kansas Cancer Center
12200 W. 110th St.
Overland Park, KS 66210

The University of Kansas Cancer Center
4881 NE Goodview Circle
Lee’s Summit, MO 64064

The University of Kansas Cancer Center
Medical Plaza North
2750 Clay Edwards Drive
Suites 010, 020 and 215
North Kansas City, MO 64116

How to safely throw away your medicine at home

In general, do not flush or pour unused medications down a sink, drain or directly into the trash. If there is not a takeback program available in your area, reference your county guidelines on medication disposal at home.

Steps for disposing of medication in the trash

  1. Remove medications from their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds, kitty litter or dirt.
  2. Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can or other container to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of the garbage bag. There are also drug deactivating pouches and pods that you can use to ensure safe disposal.
  3. Dispose of the container following your county or city regulations.

When to flush medications

A short list of medications is recommended to be flushed because any unintentional contact or ingestion of the drug could cause serious consequences or death. The FDA has guidance on which medications you can flush.

If you are concerned someone has been exposed to a hazardous medication or taken medicine improperly, call the 24-hour Poison Center hotline: 1-800-222-1222.

How to safely throw away injectable medication

Do not put injectable medications, needles or lancets directly into the trash. If there is not a takeback program available in your area, reference your county guidelines on injectable medication disposal at home.

If you are prescribed an injectable medication, ask one of our team members for a sharps container. You can also use any rigid, puncture-proof, leak-proof container that has a lid. Some examples of containers that can be used include empty laundry or dish detergent bottles. After an injection, follow these steps:

  1. Do not recap the needle.
  2. Place the needle in the container, stored upright and out of reach of children and pets.
  3. Once the container is nearly full, seal the lid with tape or glue.
  4. Dispose of the container following your county or city regulations.

Manufacturer programs

Some specialized medications have a manufacturer disposal program. Check your packaging or talk with your pharmacist for more information.

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