We’re updating this page because it’s relevant again now. The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is coming on October 22nd, 2016, and we want to be sure you’re ready. So dig out those leftover pills you could never get into your hard to pill cat. There’s a safe way to dispose of them near you! You can find locations that will be accepting prescription drugs, no questions asked, by checking the National Take Back Initiative Collection Site Search or by calling 1-800-882-9539.
There are a lot of ways that you shouldn’t dispose of things.
Flushing your unused medications down the toilet or drain is a bad idea. The US Geological Survey has already found levels of drugs such as antibiotics, hormones, and contraceptives in 80% of the rivers and streams tested in part of a nationwide study. Additional studies have shown that fish and other wildlife can be adversely affected by medications, even when they are expired.
Instead of flushing medications, check to see if there are drug take-back events in your area one of the following ways:
- Call your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service to ask whether a drug take-back program is available in your community. Some counties hold periodic household hazardous waste collection days, where over-the-counter and prescription drugs are accepted at a set location.
Ask your pharmacist whether he or she knows of any medicine disposal programs in your area.
- Find a local, independent pharmacy in your area who participates in drug disposal through disposemymeds.com.
- Check the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s web site for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Event information.
- Ask your veterinarian. They may be willing to include unused medications originally purchased through them in shipments to their medical waste company.
If there aren’t any drug take-back events in your area, you can purchase special postage-paid packages from your local pharmacy that send medications back to a medical waste company. Some medications are ineligible for this program so read the fine print before you purchase.
The same guidelines can be used for disposal of human medications, though your veterinarian is unlikely to be willing to take back unused human medication. Keeping our groundwater safe is everybody’s responsibility!