What Are Pharmacy Take-Back Programs?

Q: What is the best way to dispose of expired or unwanted medications from our home medicine cabinet? 

Consumers and caregivers should remove expired, unwanted or unused medicines from their home as quickly as possible to help reduce the chance that others may accidentally take, or intentionally misuse, the unneeded medicine.

Medicine take-back programs are a good way to safely dispose of most types of unneeded medicines. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) periodically hosts National Prescription Drug Take-Back events where collection sites are set up in communities nationwide for safe disposal of prescription drugs. Local law- enforcement agencies may also sponsor medicine take-back programs in your community. Consumers can contact their local waste-management authorities to learn about medication-disposal options and guidelines for their area.

Another option for consumers to dispose of unneeded medicines is to transfer unused medicines to collectors registered with the DEA. DEA-authorized collectors safely and securely collect and dispose of pharmaceuticals containing controlled substances and other medicines. In your community, authorized collection sites may be retail pharmacies, hospital or clinic pharmacies, and law-enforcement locations. Some authorized collection sites may also offer mail-back programs or collection receptacles, sometimes called drop boxes, to assist consumers in safely disposing of their unused medicines.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration