Securely dispose of your unwanted medicines on National Take Back Day

Caitlin Carroll
Caitlin Carroll April 28, 2018


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Today, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration hosts its annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The awareness day helps educate people on the need to properly dispose of expired or unwanted prescription medicines and connects them with local, law-enforcement led take back events. Last Take Back Day, more than 5,000 collection sites participated, collecting nearly 1 million pounds of materials.

With the opioid crisis affecting communities and families across the country, ensuring prescription medicines are stored securely and disposed properly is critically important. The majority of abused prescription medicines are obtained from friends and family members, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. And 75 percent of teens say they can easily access their parents medicine cabinets, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Help keep your loved ones, home and community healthy by using the resources below.

Find a Collection Site Near You

From 10:00am-2:00pm today, collection sites will accept your expired or unused medicines. Find the location nearest to you by entering your zip code or country into the DEA’s location database here. You can also call 1-800-882-9539 for more information. Share the word with friends and family but accessing the DEA’s public service announcements here.

Follow These Easy In-Home Disposal Steps

If you are unable to visit a take back day event or collection kiosk in your area, you can follow these FDA-recommended steps to properly dispose of your medicines at home:

Step 1:  Pour medication into a sealable plastic bag. If the medication is in solid form (pill, liquid capsule, etc.), add water to dissolve it.

Step 2:  Add kitty litter, sawdust, coffee grounds or another unpalatable material to the plastic bag to make the solution less appealing for pets and children.

Step 3: Seal the plastic bag and put it in the trash.

Step 4: Remove and destroy all identifying personal information (for example, the prescription label) from the medication containers before recycling them or throwing them away. This helps to ensure medical privacy.

Some medicines should not be disposed of via household trash or take back programs, and may come with specific disposal instructions. For more information, contact your doctor or visit the FDA’s website.

Learn More at MyOldMeds.com

You can learn more about best practices and find state-specific disposal resources at MyOldMeds.com. MyOldMeds is a public awareness campaign sponsored by PhRMA and other community-focused partners that aims to build stronger, safer neighborhoods across the country by educating people about the importance of secure disposal. Find resources for your state here.

Topics: Prescription Drug Safety, Safe Drug Disposal