Medicine disposal partnership will encourage public to Flush Less, Crush More | Outdoor Channel
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Medicine disposal partnership will encourage public to Flush Less, Crush More

By: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

SAN DIEGO, CA – The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) today signed a formal agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) to help protect the nation's fish and aquatic resources from the improper disposal of medication. The campaign – dubbed "SMARxT DISPOSAL" – will inform people on how to safely dispose of medicines in the trash, and highlight the environmental threat posed from flushing medicines down the toilet.

"Trace amounts of chemical compounds often associated with medications have been increasingly detected in our waters, the very waters that support our nation's fish and other wildlife," said Gary Frazer, Assistant Director of Fisheries and Habitat Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "While uncertainty still exists about the impact of these chemicals, USFWS, PhRMA and the APhA recognize the value of getting in front of the issue by passing along a few easy steps: don't flush those medicines, crush the medicines in a plastic bag, add coffee-grounds, sawdust or kitty-litter, seal the bag and put it in the trash. In other words, crush … don't flush."

The partnership was announced during APhA's annual meeting held in San Diego, California, one of the largest gatherings of pharmacy professionals and health services providers in the country.

"Medications play a vital role in our society," added Dr. John A. Gans, Executive Vice President and CEO of APhA. "Consumers – and pharmacists – should be aware that it is important to take that extra step to protect our families and our natural resources."

"Proper disposal of medicines is important to America's families. PhRMA is very excited to be working on this initiative with the Fish and Wildlife Service and American Pharmacist Association that will educate all Americans on the safest way to dispose of unused medicines," said Billy Tauzin, President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association.

APhA, PhRMA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say just three small steps can make a huge difference:

1. DO NOT FLUSH unused medications or POUR them down a sink or drain.
Consumers were once advised to flush their expired or unused medications; however, recent environmental impact studies report that this could be having an adverse impact on the environment. While the rule of thumb is not to flush, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that certain medications should be flushed due to their abuse potential. Read the instructions on your medication and talk to your pharmacist.

2. Dispose of Unused Medication in Household Trash.
When discarding unused medications, ensure you protect children and pets from potentially negative effects:

  • Pour medication in a sealable plastic bag. If medication is a solid (pill, liquid capsule, etc.), crush it or add water to dissolve it.
  • Add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds (or any material that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for pets or children to eat) to the plastic bag.
  • Seal the plastic bag and put it in the trash.
  • Remove and destroy ALL identifying personal information (prescription label) from the medication container.


3. Check for Approved State and Local Collection Programs.
In certain states, you may be able to take your unused medications to your community pharmacy.

4. Consult Your Pharmacist with any questions.


Visit the SMARxT Disposal website at:

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