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If you’re like most people, you have a history of flushing various substances down the toilet, such as tissues, cotton balls, dirty mop water, matches, cigarette butts, and maybe even unused medications. However, in recent years people have become more aware that there are a lot of things that should never be flushed down the toilet because of clogging and contaminating our water supply.

One issue that’s captured a lot of attention regarding safety is flushing prescription medications down the toilet. Is it safe, or should you never flush medications down the toilet? Let’s go straight to the source for the answer, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, otherwise known as the FDA.

What Does the FDA Say?

According to the FDA, certain medicines are dangerous when they aren’t disposed of properly, such as fentanyl patches, which are used by elderly patients in assisted living communities. “When powerful medicines such as these patches are disposed of down the toilet, you help to keep others safe by ensuring these medicines are not used again or accidentally ingested and avoid causing harm,” says the FDA.

The FDA says that some medicines come with disposal instructions, and if the medicine has such instructions, patients should dispose of their medication according to those instructions. However, if the medicine is on the FDA’s list entitled, “Medicines Recommended for Disposal by Flushing,” it should be flushed down the toilet when it’s no longer needed and a medicine take-back program is not available.

“Flushing these medicines will get rid of them right away and help keep your family and pets safe,” according to the FDA. While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some of the medicines recommended for flushing by the FDA:

  • Demerol
  • Dilaudid
  • Methadone Hydrochloride
  • Morphine Sulfate
  • Oxycodone Hydrochloride
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet

To see the FDA’s full list of medications that should be flushed, click here.

“Isn’t it harmful to flush these medications down the toilet? Can’t it compromise our nation’s water supply?” The FDA says that based on available data, the agency believes the risk of accidental exposure and death from certain medications, such as potent opioid medicines far outweighs any potential risk to the environment or humans associated with flushing medications.

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