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Safe Needle Disposal: What You Need to Know

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on September 28, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Proper disposal of sharp medical objects—like syringes, needles, or lancets—is important to prevent injury. The improper disposal of needles or sharps is dangerous and can increase the risk for a needle stick injury, which can spread blood-borne diseases like HIV or various forms of hepatitis.

Many states have laws regarding sharp disposal, so it’s important to understand proper disposal practices.

What are examples of sharps that require proper disposal?

Examples of types of medications that will require proper disposal include the following:

How should I dispose of my sharps?

  • Check for free options. Contact the manufacturer of your drug, or your health department to see if they have a free mail-back program, or free sharps containers. Trulicity, for instance, gives away free sharps containers on their website.
  • Find a drop-off location. Hospitals, doctors offices, and health clinics are a good place to start. Oftentimes they have a sharps disposal drop-off box, but be sure to call first. You can also contact your state’s department of public health to find a drop-off location close to you.

What type of container can I use to dispose of my sharps?

You can use one of the following types of containers to dispose of your sharps or needle-containing products in your household:

  • FDA-cleared sharps container
  • Empty laundry detergent container
  • Empty bleach container
  • Empty Drano container

If you use an empty household container, be sure that you are following FDA guidelines. Proper sharps containers should be able to be properly closed and stand on its own, leak resistant, made of heavy-duty plastic, and should be properly labeled to warn of hazardous waste.

You can purchase an FDA-cleared sharps container without a prescription or you can ask your doctor to write a prescription for you so that your local pharmacy can try to bill your insurance to see if it’s covered.  

Does each state have their own guidelines regarding sharps disposal?

Yes. If you have questions or would like more information specific to your state call Safe Needle Disposal at 1-800-643-1643 or e-mail at safeneedledisposal@needymeds.org.  


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