Apr 26 2014, 9:18am CDT | by Forbes
I see you – you’re sitting back with your Saturday morning coffee and firing up the internet to read your local newspaper and Forbes.com.
Well, take a sojourn to your medicine cabinet and do a little spring cleaning: Pull out all of the old medicines that you’re not using or that have expired, remove any labels with personal identification information, and plan to run an errand later this morning.
Today is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, for those of us in the United States.
Between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm local time, a variety of sites around the country will be set up for you to safely dispose of old medicines. Any prescription or over-the-counter drugs in a “solid dosage form” – pills, capsules, caplets – will be accepted. Sites will also take transdermal patches: nicotine patches, fentanyl patches, etc. However, the sites won’t be collecting any intravenous medicines, needles, or drugs not produced by a licensed manufacturer.
You don’t have to give your name – just bring the medicines to the site nearest you. Typically, the site will be a fire station, hospital, church, or police station.
You can find the collection site closest to you by clicking HERE or on the graphic below.
For me, the site is a shopping center near Duke University. Great, I need to pick up milk anyway.
This program has been run by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency since September, 2010. Over the last seven events, over 2.8 million pounds of medicines have been collected and disposed properly. The involvement of the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control is intended to specifically prevent drugs with abuse liability from filtering into the black market or causing harm to people who might improperly get into someone’s medicine cabinet.
About 22,000 people died from drug overdoses last year, and 16,000 of these were from prescription opioid drugs like those containing hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, morphine, codeine, etc. So you can expect that the sites will also be displaying and distributing educational material on minimizing the improper use of prescription medications.
Drug disposal is a year-round activity
Ideally, drugs shouldn’t be sent off in the household trash or flushed down the toilet. Some medicines can be toxic to aquatic life while others can be dangerous if young children get into them. So these take-back programs have been run about twice a year. Many pharmacies and local health agencies will also collect your old medicines anytime.
But if you can’t get it together to bring your medicines to a take-back site near you today, the FDA has information on making drug disposal a year-round activity.
One exception to the no-flushing rule is this list of opioid drugs and other sedatives. FDA recommends that you never keep unwanted quantities of these drugs around because even one adult-strength pill can be harmful to children or dogs and cats.
This FDA FAQ has more information on prescription drug disposal.
So take some time this morning to gather up your old medicines and bring them to folks who can dispose of them in a safe, environmentally-friendly manner.
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