Twice each year, the DEA holds National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, a chance for people to safely dispose of unused or expired medications.
But that doesn’t mean you have to wait for those days to come around to get rid of your unwanted meds. There are ways you can dispose of your old prescription drugs that are safe and environmentally-friendly.
Do you have a medicine cabinet or old pill dispensers filled with unused drugs? Here are six ways to get rid of your unwanted medications.
1. Return unused medication to your pharmacy
In 2014, the DEA created a rule that allows drug stores, clinics, long-term care facilities and drug rehab centers to voluntarily take back medications. If you aren’t sure which pharmacies are involved, visit DisposeMyMeds.org to find a pharmacy near you, or go to DEAdiversion.usdoj.gov and search "drug disposal.”
Consumer reports recommends calling the DEA Registration Call Center at 800-882-9539, which will direct you to police and fire departments, community hospitals and other collection sites.
2. Send them to a collection site by mail
According to Consumer Reports, CVS, Rite-Aid and Costco all sell postage-paid envelopes that allow their pharmacy customers to mail prescription drugs – including opioids – and over-the-counter medicines to a disposal center.
3. Visit a self-service disposal kiosk
Walgreens provides customers with free, secure and anonymous kiosks to drop off medication in nearly every state, Consumer Reports says. You’ll need to remove your personal information from the bottle or packaging before medication disposal.
4. Throw it away (but take some precautions first)
If you can’t find a pharmacy to accept your medication or an authorized drop off, you can throw most pills in the trash, provided you take some precautions. Here’s what the FDA recommends:
- Mix medications with an unappealing substance (kitty litter, dirt, old coffee grounds).
- Put that mixture in a plastic bag or some other sort of sealed container.
- Throw the container in the trash.
- Make sure all the personal information on your prescription labels is unreadable, and then throw those away as well.
This method should never be applied to opioids or other dangerous medications. It’s too easy for kids to dig these from the trash and ingest them.
5. Flushing is an option…in some cases
The FDA says this is an option if there’s no other choice, and if you’re worried someone in your household might accidentally ingest a dangerous drug.
If you visit the FDA website, you can find a printable list of drugs that are recommended for disposal by flushing. Don’t flush medications unless you think you absolutely must. Trace amounts of some drugs can get into the water supply and be harmful to aquatic life.
6. Find out more about Prescription Drug Take Back Day
The DEA’s Prescription Drug Take Back Days are typically held in April and October of each year. These events allow you to drop off all leftover medications at police departments, fire companies and other facilities around your town. It’s completely free and anonymous.
Are you worried that you or a loved one haven’t been taking their medication on time? Marx Medical Equipment can help.
Our medication dispensers automatically dispense pills up to four times daily, while our monitored devices transmit compliance information to the secure Marx Medical data center.
With the help of our medication dispensers, you’ll have fewer drugs to dispose of when the time comes.