Properly Dispose of Medications on National Prescription Drug Takeback Day

A billboard announcement about National Prescription Drug Takeback Day on Saturday April 27.

Do you have unused medications that need to be thrown out? DONT flush them down the toilet—instead, dispose of them properly during National Prescription Drug Takeback Day this Saturday.

Flushing pharmaceuticals leads to source water contamination, because wastewater treatment plants were not designed to remove these chemical compounds. Aside from potentially showing up in drinking water, scientists have found high concentrations of pharmaceuticals in fish. Some of the more common compounds they detected include antifungals, heart drugs, opioids, and antidepressants.

Throwing medications in the trash or leaving them in the medicine chest is also problematic, because it can lead to unintentional use, overdose, and abuse. Studies show most teens who misused prescription drugs got them from family, friends, or found them at home.

And the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that in 2019, at least 9.7 million people misused prescription pain relievers, 4.9 million people misused prescription stimulants, and 5.9 million people misused prescription tranquilizers or sedatives.

(In the accompanying photo, a child at an LCA Earth Day event correctly determines that medications don’t belong in the toilet.)

A Safe Alternative

Instead, dispose of pharmaceuticals safely, for FREE, during the DEA’s 26th annual National Prescription Drug Takeback Day on Saturday, Oct. 27 at sites across the greater Lehigh Valley. Nationwide, last year’s take-back event kept 663,725 pounds of medications out of wastewater systems!

To find a disposal site near you, check out the DEA’s Take Back Day Site Locator.

After you’ve properly disposed of your unneeded medications, join LCA, the Lehigh County Conservation District and the Penn State Extension from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Lehigh County Authority headquarters, 1053 Spruce Road, Allentown, for an educational event on the proper disposal of household hazardous waste—including what not to dump down the drain. A Mr. Yuk presentation will begin promptly at 10:30am. Please arrive early to visit various interactive table activities from local organizations. Children are encouraged to attend but must be under adult supervision at all times. Note: This is NOT a hazardous waste or medication drop-off event; it is an informational presentation only.

Each participant will receive a complimentary breakfast, native plant, and other free items.

Permanent Dropoff Locations

Can’t make it to the prescription drug collection event on Saturday? No worries. In Lehigh County, there are 22 permanent locations where you can safely drop off unused medications through The Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Take-Back Program. Each location has a secure prescription drug take-back box installed— you can view a map of them here.

If you’re outside the county, just go to the state’s Drug Take Back Locations page and search by zip code or county. Pharmacies often have a take-back program as well — contact yours for more information.

No matter how or when you dispose of your medications, here’s how to use the take-back boxes — and what they can be used for:


  • All pharmaceutical drugs to be disposed must be placed in a sealed container such as the original bottle or zip-lock bag
  • Liquid pharmaceuticals should remain in the original container
  • Personal information should be removed or marked out with a permanent marker


  • Prescription and over-the-counter solid medications
  • Tablets and capsules
  • Pet medicines 


  • Intravenous solutions
  • Injectables, syringes, and needles (i.e., EpiPens)*; these need to be taken to a health care professional’s office or to a hospital for disposal
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Compressed cylinders or aerosols (e.g., asthma inhalers)
  • Iodine-containing medications
  • Thermometers
  •  Alcohol & Schedule 1 drugs (i.e., marijuana, heroin, LSD, etc.)