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Handling pet medications

How to dispose of pet and human medications properly

Q: I have unused feline and human medications. I mentioned to a friend that I planned to flush them down the toilet, but she told me they would get into the water supply and then be ingested by fish and humans. Isn’t toilet water treated? Is there a better way to dispose of unused pet and human drugs?

A: Please do not discard medications in the toilet or sink. Water treatment plants remove bacteria from the water, but not the drugs you flush into the sewage system. The reverse osmosis equipment necessary to remove chemicals from drinking water is far too expensive for municipalities to install in their water treatment facilities.

The best way to dispose of drugs is to deliver them to an official organization that will see that they are safely incinerated. The three most common types of organizations are:

  • Municipalities: Most cities and towns sponsor drug take-back days a few times each year, when they collect unused medications for disposal.
  • Pharmacies: Many accept unused medications for disposal, and others provide envelopes so you can send drugs to companies that dispose of them properly. Ask your pharmacist or visit disposemymeds.org for a list of take-back pharmacies in your area.
  • Police stations: Many law enforcement agencies have drop boxes where you can deposit discarded medications.

Visit earth911.com and enter your zip code to find locations near you that dispose of unused drugs – and everything else you want to throw away safely.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

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