[Skip to Content]
pile of prescription pills bottles

Safe Medication Disposal

The Upstate New York Poison Center urges all residents to safely dispose of any unused or expired medications in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

Proper medication disposal is crucial to prevent your medications from getting into the wrong hands, unintentional exposure, and abuse.

Poisoning is the third leading means of suicide in the U.S. In 2023 for teenagers between 13 and 19 years old, our poison center handled nearly 1,900 intentional suicide attempts by poisoning.

To make sure you safely dispose of any medications (prescription and non-prescription), follow these recommendations:

  1. Participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day: The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) organizes National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day every April and October. Residents can drop off unused or expired medications at designated collection sites during this event.

  2. Find an Authorized Drug Collection Site: Residents can find free collection sites in New York using this interactive map. Also, you can search this site for year-round drop-off locations near your home.

  3. Contact Your City/Town for Household Pharmaceutical Collections: Residents are encouraged to ask their local municipalities about household pharmaceutical collection events in collaboration with law enforcement agencies.

  4. Buy Pre-addressed Envelopes at Local Pharmacies: Many local pharmacies offer pre-addressed envelopes for mailing unwanted medications for safe incineration.

  5. Safely Dispose of Medications at Home: Use an at-home drug disposal kit like Deterra® for safe disposal. Simple instructions allow for proper and environmentally safe disposal.

  6. Dispose of Medications in the Trash as a Last Resort: If no other disposal options are available, follow FDA recommendations for disposing of medications in the trash. Make sure medications are mixed with undesirable substances and placed in sealed containers.

Additionally, Sharps should be disposed of at hospital-based collection programs or in puncture-proof containers sealed with tape and labeled appropriately.