Do you have unused or expired medicine? Before you throw it away, there are some things you should know.

OptumRx® now offers Deterra drug disposal kits, free of charge, so you can easily and safely dispose of unwanted or expired medications without harming the environment or risking potential abuse.  

Call the number on the back of your plan ID card to receive a medication disposal kit at no charge.

Disposal information varies from state to state; contact your local or state health department, regional or state environmental protection agency or the Office of National Drug Control Policy for specific information about drug disposal. (Visit or

You can also contact local or national hazardous waste and sharps disposal companies such as:

  • Waste Management: (877) 927-8363
  • GRP & Associates: (888) 346-6037
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

How to dispose of medicine

  • Bring the medication to a local pharmacy.
  • Dispose unwanted medication at a community household hazardous waste (HHW) collection program, if one is available or national hazardous waste company.

Use Federal prescription drug disposal rules issued by the Office of National Drug Control Policy:

  • Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or patient information tells you to. For information on drugs that should be flushed, visit the FDA's website.
  • To dispose of prescription drugs that cannot be flushed, your community may have drug take-back programs or other programs, such as household hazardous waste collection events, that collect drugs at a central location for proper disposal. Call your city or county government's household trash and recycling service for more information.

If a drug take-back or collection program is not available:

  • Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers.
  • Mix drugs with an undesirable material, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
    Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag.
  • Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the empty containers by covering it with black permanent marker or duct tape, or by scratching it off to protect your privacy.
  • Place both the sealed container with the mixture and the empty drug containers in the trash.

Disposing of prescription drugs into the trash or by flushing down a toilet is strongly discouraged. Although these methods prevent the misuse of the medication to be destroyed, this practice can cause other problems:

  • If the medication travels to a septic tank, it may harm the beneficial bacteria that are responsible for breaking down waste in the septic system.
  • If the medication travels to a wastewater treatment plant, many medicines are not captured or are only partially captured during the treatment process. The medications can then be released into a nearby lake, river or ground water with the treated wastewater posing a threat to aquatic life.
  • Impermeable containers can become permeable in landfills and enable drugs to trickle into groundwater.

To maximize your expanded polystyrene (EPS) recycling efforts via the mail-back option, we recommend the following:

  • Make sure the EPS is clean and free of any tape, plastic film, labels, loose parts or glued-on cardboard. Do not return any film plastics, food or medical waste or trash.
  • Increase the amount of EPS in each shipping container by breaking or cutting it into small pieces so that more can fit in a box.
  • When shipping EPS biomedical coolers, completely empty the cooler. Tape the top and bottom pieces together with packing tape and apply the label and postage directly to the cooler. An outer box is not necessary.
  • The Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers (AFPR) does not accept meat trays, cups, egg cartons or other disposable food service items for recycling.
  • Prepare a shipping label and affix postage for delivery to the nearest mail-back location.
  • To find additional information on EPS recycling go to
Note: When you give another person access to your account, they will be able to see information about you and your prescriptions. You should be careful about who you choose to have access to this information. You may also wish to review your choice of "Caregiver" or "Account Manager" on a regular basis by selecting "My Account Manager".