Safe Medicine Use, Storage, and Disposal

Safe Use & Storage Pocket Films

Tens of millions of Americans reach for over-the-counter (OTC) medications for relief of minor aches and pains.  But just because they’re OTC doesn’t mean they’re harmless. And with more than 1,000 acetaminophen and NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) containing medications, choosing the right medication can seem overwhelming.  This short film will guide you in choosing the medication that’s right for you or your loved one, and give tips on taking them safely.  Download this film. 


Once you choose an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication that’s right for you or a loved one, it’s important to store it safely.  Watch this film to learn where to store your meds, how to keep them Up and Away and Out of Sight of young children, how to prevent misuse, and what to do when you no longer need the medication.  
Download this film. 


Safe Disposal Pocket Film

An estimated 40 percent of medications sold end up unused. But what do we do with medications that we no longer want? This film offers viewers a simple step-by-step guide on safe disposal including: how to dispose of medications at home in three simple steps, why certain medications must be flushed, tips on where to dispose of medications outside the home, and how to keep personal information safe.  
Download the film.



The Alliance for Aging Research, in partnership with the Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition, the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the CHPA Educational Foundation, and the National Council on Patient Information and Education, hosted a Twitter chat on March 23, 2016, on how to safely choose, take, store, and dispose of medications. You can see a transcript of the chat here.



OTC Pain Medication Quiz

After you watch these films on safe use and storage of OTC pain medications, take this quiz and find out how much you've learned!




Other Helpful Resources

The AAC is made up of leading health, healthcare provider, and consumer organizations who are educating consumers and patients on the importance of knowing the ingredients in their medicines and following labeling diriections to prevent unintentional acetaminophen overdose.  Visit to get more facts, play a game on safe acetaminophen use, and order free materials.

A resource from the US Drug Enforcement Agency, Get Smart About Drugs has information for patients, educators, and caregivers including true stories, statistics, the consequences of drug abuse, and more.  A tip sheet offers answers to some common questions about drug disposal.



The National Council on Patient Information & Education is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder coalition working to stimulate and improve communication of information on the appropriate use of medicines to consumers and healthcare professionals. The NCPIE website is full of great tools including MUST for Seniors, Talk Before You Take, Acetaminophen Safe Use programs, and more.

The mission of the PAPR Coalition is to advocate for public policy to support access to and choice of appropriate OTC pain relief, while educating the public about the responsible use of acetaminophen. The PAPR site provides key facts and headlines on protecting access to pain relief.


The Food and Drug Administration's Safe Use Initiative aims to create and facilitate public and private collaborations within the healthcare community and reduce prevantable harm from medications. Visit their website for an in-depth view of their initiatives.


Every year, around 60,000 young children are brought to the ER because they got into medicines that were left within reach. The Up and Away and Out of Sight program is a partnership with Protect, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and CHPA Educational Foundation, and is educating parents, grandparens, and caregivers on how to keep the children in their life safe from accidental medication poisoning.


Pocket Film Series from the Alliance



In addition to these important films on safe use, storage, and disposal of medications, the Alliance has a library of pocket films on such topics as sepsis, atrial fibrillation, venous thromboembolism, Alzheimer's disease, and more. These short, animated "pocket films" make technical and dense medical information more approachable, and easier to understand. See them all on our pocket films webpage.