ANSWER: The best way to get rid of old or expired medications is to dispose of them through a Medication Take-Back Program.

RATIONALE: It is important to dispose of unwanted or expired medications and remove these from your home to prevent accidental exposure or misuse. Although placing medications directly into the trash is better for our environment than flushing them down the toilet, it is still not recommended. If found in the trash, some medications could be abused by others. Again, medications are best disposed of through Medication Take-Back Programs.

Currently there are only a small number of temporary drop-off locations within King County. These locations will dispose of most medications, but some locations have additional restrictions. Click here for more information about drop-off locations in King County.

  • Auburn Polce Department
  • Bothell Police Departmentscreen-shot-2016-10-10-at-11-04-20-am
  • Burien Police Station
  • Issaquah Police Department
  • City of Kenmore Police
  • Lake Forest Park Police
  • Maple Valley Police Department
  • Sammamish Police Department
  • City of Snoqualmie Police Department
  • Woodinville Police Department

For those located outside of the King County area, click here to find a drop off location near you.

It is important to note that there are a few, specific medications that are high risk for causing potential harm if used by someone other than who it was prescribed for. It is important that these medications be disposed of promptly to keep your family and pets safe from accidental exposure. For this safety reason the FDA has issued a list of flushable medications for immediate disposal. Click here for a complete list of FDA flushable medications.

For at home use, a medication disposal product called DRUGBUSTER is a safe alternative for disposing of medications into the trash and may be a more convenient option for those that do not have a drop-off location in their area. DRUGBUSTER contains a solution that neutralizes and dissolves medications so that it can be safely placed into the regular trash. These may be found at local pharmacies for purchase.

In addition to Medication Take-Back Programs, there are also National Medication Take-Back Days that happen twice annually, once in the spring and fall. On these days there will be additional sites available for removal of old medications and they serve as a great reminder to clean out unwanted or expired medications from your home. Click here to find the dates for these Take-Back Days and more information about the locations available for disposal.

MED-Project – A new medication disposal program coming to King Countyscreen-shot-2016-10-10-at-11-06-50-am

King County just announced that starting January 2017 a new program called MED-Project will be available. Over the last year King County has been working to implement a more robust local Drug Take-Back Program. Currently there are only a few select drop-off locations for disposal. This program will allow for more convenient disposal using kiosks placed at various pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics. Click here for more information about the MED-Project.

Now, these are general drug disposal recommendations and we realize that you may have a more specific or unique case. Therefore it is best to Ask The Pharmacist if you have any questions about the safest way to dispose of your medications.


References/Additional Resources:

Temporary medication drop-off locations and restrictions in king county

Medication drop-off location search

FDA flushable medication list

Drug Buster Website

Drug Take-Back Days

MED-Project – New drug take-back program in King County

FDA medication disposal recommendations