How Do I Dispose of Expired Amoxicillin?

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  • Written By: Jillian O Keeffe
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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Amoxicillin is an antibiotic, which kills some bacterial species. When the drug passes its use-by date, it may not be safe or effective, and requires proper disposal. Often, medications have disposal instructions written on the container, but if these are not present or if the method of disposal is contrary to local law, then other modes of disposal may be used. Possible options include flushing the antibiotic, placing it in the garbage or returning it to a local pharmacy for destruction.

Expired amoxicillin is not usable for its intended purpose, because the active ingredient may have degraded or the medication could have otherwise altered into unsafe forms. If you have a condition requiring treatment with an antibiotic, expired amoxicillin is not safe to use, and a new antibiotic is necessary. This may require a trip to the doctor to ensure you get the right medicine for your medical problem.

Often, the appropriate disposal method for expired amoxicillin is written on the label of the drug container. Sometimes, you can flush the expired tablets or solutions down the drain. Different areas of the world, however, have varying regulations on medicine disposal, and you should check your local environmental protection agency to ensure that the labeled disposal technique is allowed. This is often due to concerns that medicine can find its way into the drinking water supply from treated waste water.


Check with a local pharmacy to find out whether they collect expired drugs for destruction. Sometimes, a locality has a drugs collection scheme as part of the regular waste service, and the local authority can help you to find such waste disposal service locations. If no such services are available in your location, and the expired amoxicillin does not state on the container that it is safe for flushing down the drain, then disposal in regular garbage is another option.

Before you throw out the antibiotic, it is first necessary to make the drugs virtually unusable and alter the container. Pack up the antibiotic into the container and then deface the label, scribbling out or removing the identifying writing. To make the antibiotic appear unusable, you can add water and something inedible to the drug, such as cat litter or charcoal.

Once the container is closed up, you can wrap it up in duct tape to make it hard to open, and place the recognizable shape of a medicine container in another container such as a cardboard box or shopping bag. Keep the defaced container away from children and put it in the trash just prior to the regular waste collection, to reduce the risk of other people accidentally coming across it and opening it up. Although amoxicillin is not a very dangerous drug, it, like all other drugs, has side effects, which could be dangerous, especially for children.


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