October 22, 2021

Drug Take Back Day: Expired Medication Disposal

It’s been a tumultuous year and a half of protecting our families and friends from COVID-19 with vigilant handwashing, mask wearing, and social distancing to ensure our communities’ safety and well-being. In addition to maintaining safety protocols, we need to remind ourselves of existing safety measures that may have been overlooked during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported overdose deaths increased by nearly 30% in a one year span between 2020 and 2021, and those numbers continue to rise.

This fall, renew your emphasis on safety-first for your family and community by safely and responsibly discarding unused and outdated medications. Held on October 23 and sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Drug Take Back Day provides an opportunity for Americans to clean out their medicine cabinets and look for ways to keep homes and communities free of medications that can potentially cause harm. 

What Is Drug Take Back Day?

The DEA introduced the National Drug Take Back Program in 2016 due to increases in drug misuse and overdose tragedies. The DEA confirms that most abused prescription drugs are found within family homes – primarily unused prescriptions that have gone unnoticed in medicine cabinets. For example, in 2019, more than 65,000 children under the age of 5 were taken to the emergency room due to unintended poisoning, with about 85% of these incidents occurring in the home, most often because they ingested medications.

Nearly nine million pounds of unused or outdated medications have been collected through the DEA’s efforts since the Drug Take Back Day began. Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in this year’s DEA Drug Take Back Day on October 23 to help combat the opioid epidemic and safeguard your home and your community.

For additional information on medication disposal efforts, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) also provides a location lookup feature for permanent collection sites and periodic take back events for the safe and easy disposal of prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications. 

Stericycle Provides Safe & Eco-Friendly Pharmaceutical Medication Disposal

Understanding safe medication disposal is critical and goes beyond a one-day event. Many people do not know how or when to safely dispose of unused or expired medications. A variety of year-round solutions are available, and you can rest assured that your medication disposal is managed effectively.

In addition to national events such as the DEA Drug Take Back Day, Stericycle partners with many local and national pharmacies and healthcare systems for safe and effective pharmaceutical waste disposal all year round. In 2020 we safely disposed of 40 million pounds of pharmaceutical waste from healthcare providers globally.

It takes a collaborative effort to educate and protect your community from the harmful effects of improper pharmaceutical disposal. To ensure disposal methods are safe, there are some important considerations to keep in mind, including:

  • Use secure containers, not open boxes that are accessible by others.
  • Do not flush medications down the toilet. They may ultimately end up in our water supply, impacting our communities, rivers, lakes, and oceans.
  • Do not dispose of medications in the municipal trash as they could eventually contaminate the soil. 

How Organizations Can Support Ongoing Safe Medication Disposal

In addition to periodic drug take back events and permanent medication collection sites, many solutions are available for organizations to support safe medication disposal year-round. It is vital to choose from options that are secure and effective.

Many organizations use medication collection kiosks at DEA-registered locations for convenient community use. Since its launch in 2016, Stericycle’s MedDrop™ Medication Collection Kiosks program has safely disposed of over 5 million pounds of consumer medications through the DEA alone.

Mail back envelopes are another option to keep your community safe from the risk of abuse of unused or expired medications. Stericycle’s Seal&Send™ Medication Mail Back envelopes provide a trackable and secure solution to help you protect your community. 

Partner with Stericycle to Learn More about Safe and Sustainable Disposal Practices

Visit our Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal hub if you have questions about safe medication disposal practices or would like to learn more about how your organization can participate in a drug take back day or ongoing medication collection plans.

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