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National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day: April 26, 2014

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on April 17, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Do you have medications that you no longer take, and you don’t know what to do with them?  If so, this year’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is for you!

Pharmacists are often asked how to get rid of unwanted or unused medications, and the National Take-Back Initiative is the answer to this increasingly popular question. This program provides an easy and convenient opportunity to discard prescription medications. It is also intended to educate the public concerning the potential for medication abuse.

Who could benefit from attending the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day?

Anyone who has medications that they are no longer using, that have expired, or that may have belonged to a loved one who has passed away.

What type of medications will the program take?

The National Take-Back Initiative will take any and all medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription. This includes not just tablets and capsules, but topical medications (creams, gels, lotions), oral liquids, patches, inhalers, injectables, and syringes.

Where can I find information on the program in my area?

You can find locations and times for collection sites near you on the DEA’s website. They also offer a help line at 1-800-882-9539 if you need assistance.

You can also check the AWARxE Get Local page for information on how to participate in your state.

Several states have their own websites relating to the National Take-Back Initiative as well, in addition to other disposal programs:

Are there any other methods to safely dispose of medications?

YES! If you are unable to attend the annual event there are other methods for prescription medication disposal. The FDA offers a guide for how to dispose of unused medications. The EPA also offers a fact sheet on how to dispose of your medications properly.

In order to prevent misuse, medications can be disposed of in the regular trash using the following methods:

  • Place the medication in kitty litter
  • Place the medication in coffee grounds
  • Place the medication in a sealed container
  • Follow manufacturer instructions on disposal of certain medications (e.g. patches, inhalers, needles)

You may also want to consider a mail-in disposal kit. These are offered by private companies who will dispose of your medications or other pharmaceutical waste for you, however, they will cost you money and may not accept controlled substances (some prescription pain meds, Adderall, etc). Some examples include the Takeaway Environmental Return System and the Heritage Pharmaceutical Disposal mail-back program.
Is there list of medications that can safely be disposed of by flushing down the toilet?

Yes. Check out the list from the FDA of medicines recommended for disposal by flushing here.

Can I donate my unused medications?

Yes. There are charities and other agencies that will accept unused medication donations.

One such program is the Wyoming Medication Donation Program, a comprehensive drug donation, redispensing, and disposal program. They provide a secure and environmentally safe way for individuals and healthcare organizations to donate unused medications so they may be used to help Wyoming residents who cannot afford their medications.

Similar programs may be available through organizations in your area.


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