Often times, consumers are not always familiar with the process of disposing expired, unwanted, or unused medications. As a result, they will attempt to bring these medications back to the pharmacy or the provider’s clinic for disposal. However, these sites are not able to take back the medication once it leaves the premises due to concerns of contamination. This increases concern of unwanted prescription medications left in the house, which allows for other individuals to have access to it such as family and friends. Based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2015, it was seen that most abused prescription drugs were acquired by family and friends from home.
Reasons why unused medication may be a danger to your family and friends:
Accordingly, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day was established by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to occur twice a year (usually in April and October) for the safe disposal of prescription drugs including opioids. This is a free public event that offers proper medication disposal services to consumers at various authorized collection sites throughout the nation. Consumers should also know that there are ‘no questions asked’ when dropping off mediations at these sites. This service aids in the reduction of accidental or intentional misuse of unneeded medications as well as entrance into the environment.
The goal of this national event is to “provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.”
If consumers are not able to attend the national event or there are no DEA-registered collection sites in the area, there are other safe disposal methods of medications:
Permanent collection sites4
Proper home disposal4
By using available resources and appropriate methods to dispose of prescription medications, this offers a safer community and environment for everyone.
1. Bicket MC, Long JJ, Pronovost PJ, Alexander GC, Wu CL. Prescription Opioid Analgesics Commonly Unused After Surgery: A Systematic Review. JAMA Surg. 2017;152(11):1066-1071. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2017.0831
2. National Study: Teen Misuse and Abuse of Prescription Drugs Up 33 Percent Since 2008, Stimulants Contributing to Sustained Rx Epidemic. https://drugfree.org/newsroom/news-item/national-study-teen-misuse-and-abuse-of-prescription-drugs-up-33-percent-since-2008-stimulants-contributing-to-sustained-rx-epidemic/.
3. Overdose Death Rates | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates.
4. Research C for DE and. Safe Disposal of Medicines – Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know.https://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/