On April 27, safely dispose of unwanted medications


It’s that time of year again. No, not tax day — thankfully, that’s behind us. We’re talking about the National Drug Take-Back Initiative. If you have unused, expired, or unwanted medications, April 27 is the time to dispose of them properly. As has been reported before, improper disposal of medications — for instance, flushing them down the toilet — has led to widespread contamination of water supplies.

This year’s event, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will give the public its sixth opportunity in three years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last September, Americans turned in 244 tons of prescription drugs at more than 5,200 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners.  In its five previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 2 million pounds — over a thousand tons — of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.

Four days after the first event, Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them.  The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances.  DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act.  Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events every few months.

Click here to search for collection sites near you, or call 800-882-9539 for more information.