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How to Safely Dispose of Prescription Medicines



Many homes end up with unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications. Old prescriptions left in medicine cabinets or elsewhere in the home can often be an easy source for those who would like to abuse prescription medications.

Unneeded medicine may also cause confusion for people who are already taking a large number of medications. Taking a drug not intended for you (or one taken by your child accidentally) could mean a trip to the emergency room—and can even prove deadly. Of particular concern are leftover opioids—narcotic painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin.

In Santa Clara County, there are a number of free, anonymous, and secure kiosks where you can drop off any medication. To use one, just remove your personal information from the bottle or packaging and drop your unwanted or expired medication, including controlled substances, in the slot. Two such locations are:

Walgreens Pharmacy

Located near the pharmacy

350 N. Capitol Ave., San Jose, CA 95133

(408) 259 - 9200

Operating hours: Open 24 hours

Santa Clara County Sheriff - Department Headquarters

Located in the main lobby

55 W.. Younger Avenue, San Jose, CA 95110

(800) 211 - 2220 | (408) 808 - 4405

Operating hours:: Open 24 hours

For dangerous drugs, the FDA says flushing is an option. Flush dangerous drugs such as opioids only if there is absolutely no other choice. There are some medicines that, when not disposed of properly, can pose significant risks; for example, if patients in assisted living communities using fentanyl patches for pain do not have access to authorized collection receptacles, they should immediately flush their used or unneeded patches down the toilet. But its important to note that trace amounts of drugs can end up in the water supply and possibly harm aquatic life.


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