How to Dispose of Old Medication

Read Time: 6 minute(s)


Knowing how to dispose of old medication is crucial. Keeping unused medicines at home can lead to misuse or abuse. And throwing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet can harm our environment and wildlife, as well as contaminate our food and water sources. That’s why it’s important to understand safe medication disposal methods.

This article will walk you through different ways to safely get rid of expired or unused drugs. We’ll discuss options like local drug take back programs and home disposal methods, so you can choose what works best for you.

How to Dispose of Old Medication: Singapore’s Law

Singaporeans are encouraged to participate in drug take back programs whenever possible. These initiatives not only ensure medications are disposed of securely but also alleviate the dangers associated with accidental ingestion or intentional misuse. Let’s explore how you can contribute to a safer community by properly handling unwanted medications.

When Should I dispose Expired/Unused Medication?

A person holding a purple container filled with pills. How to Dispose of Old Medication

You should consider disposing of your medications immediately if:

  • They are expired or if the expiration date is uncertain, such as when the packaging is damaged or a section of the blister pack is missing.

  • Their shelf life has been compromised, for instance, due to inappropriate storage conditions.

  • They exhibit signs of degradation like changes in color, odor, or texture.

  • The medication is no longer needed by the prescribed individual and isn’t intended for occasional use as needed.

How should I dispose of my Expired/Unused medication?

A person holding a pack of pills, ready to take medication for health purposes.

To discard your expired or unused medication, adhere to the following steps:

Start by following the disposal guidelines found on the drug’s label or in the accompanying patient information leaflet. If your pharmacist provided specific instructions, follow them.

If no specialized disposal directions are given, you can typically dispose of these medications as you would regular household trash, in a refuse chute or bin.

Here are some general steps to follow for safe disposal:

  • Eliminate and obliterate any personal identification details, such as your name or IC number, from the medication bag or container to safeguard your privacy.

  • Dissolve tablets or capsules in water, and mix this solution with unpalatable household waste (like dishwashing soap). This makes it unlikely that a child or pet would ingest it. Place this mixture in a sealed plastic bag before throwing it out with your trash. This extra security measure prevents accidental exposure and ensures medications don’t end up in the wrong hands.

  • For topical patches, fold the used patch sticky-side-in to hide the active surface.

  • If you have a large quantity of liquid medicine (more than 250ml), dispose of it gradually over several days, or pour it onto absorbent material (like newspaper) prior to disposal.

  • For injectable medications, be sure to cap the needle right after use to prevent injury. Verify that there is no residual liquid medication in the syringe before disposing of it.

How to Dispose of Old Medication: Drug Take Back Programs

Drug take back programs are important for safely getting rid of medication. When you participate in these programs, you can make sure that your unused or expired medications are handled responsibly. This greatly reduces the chances of these substances being misused or accidentally consumed by children or pets.

In Singapore, there is an initiative called the National Addictions Management Service’s Take-Back Program. Here’s how you can take part:

  1. Collect all the medications that you want to dispose of.
  2. Make sure they are still in their original containers and the labels are intact.
  3. Go to the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS) website and locate the nearest collection point.
  4. Bring your medications to the collection point during the specified hours.

Pharmacies also frequently organize events where you can drop off any unused medications. These events offer a convenient way for individuals to return medicines safely and without any trouble. Some pharmacies even have permanent drop-off boxes, allowing people to dispose of their medications at any time during pharmacy operating hours.

These initiatives show how healthcare providers and authorities are actively working to ensure public safety and health by promoting proper medication management and disposal practices.

How to Dispose of Old Medication: Disposing Specific Types of Medications

Disposing of medications correctly is crucial, with certain types requiring extra care. Inhalers and insulin needles are two common examples needing specific disposal methods to ensure safety.

Inhaler Disposal

When it comes to inhaler disposal, it’s not just about throwing them out. Improper disposal can lead to residual medication contaminating the environment.

  • Empty the Canister: Make sure to use all the medication within the inhaler before disposing of it.
  • Separate Parts: Dismantle the inhaler if possible. Plastic parts and the canister often need to be recycled separately.
  • Recycle Right: Check with local regulations on recycling aerosol products. Some community recycling programs accept these items.

General Needle Disposal

Any kind of needles pose a significant threat if not properly discarded, given their potential to cause harm and spread infection.

  • Utilize a Sharps Container: Make sure to always discard used needles in an appropriate sharps container to avoid unintended injuries.
  • Do Not Recycle: Used needles must never be put in recycling bins as they can pose a risk to sanitation workers.
  • Adhere to Instructions: Always stick to specific disposal guidelines offered by the manufacturer or your healthcare provider.

By adhering to these guidelines, you help prevent harm to others and protect our environment. Remember, when in doubt about how to dispose of an inhaler or insulin needles, consult your healthcare provider or local waste management authorities for advice tailored to your area’s regulations.


It is important to learn how to dispose of old medication properly. It is crucial for Singaporeans to make this a priority in order to protect public health and our environment. By following the rules and regulations regarding medication disposal, we are ensuring the safety of our community and minimizing harm to the environment.

It’s not enough to just know how to dispose of medication properly – we need to share this knowledge with others as well. By spreading the word about safe disposal practices, we can increase awareness and encourage more people to do the right thing. Whether it’s through a casual conversation or a post on social media, every little bit helps.

If you’re still unsure about how to dispose of old medication, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to healthcare professionals or local authorities who can provide guidance based on their expertise. Remember, there’s no shame in seeking clarification if it means preventing harm and protecting our environment.

While it may seem like a small action, every individual effort counts. We may not be able to solve all the problems on our own, but by taking responsibility for our unused medications today, we are making a positive impact towards a safer and healthier future.

Picture of MMC Writing Team

MMC Writing Team

An Apple a day keeps the doctor away. We hope that we can provide you with information to stay healthy.

Picture of MMC Writing Team

MMC Writing Team

An Apple a day keeps the doctor away. We hope that we can provide you with information to stay healthy.

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