National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
The first National Prescription Drug take Back Day was founded by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2010, and has been happening annually ever since. The main priority of this nationwide event is to help residents safely dispose of unused, unwanted or expired prescriptions in order to prevent future misuse, addiction and overdose-related deaths. Individuals are able to dispose of medications at designated disposal sites safely and anonymously. The event has seen immense success in past years. In October 2019, during the 19th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, over 882,919 pounds of unused medication was collected at over 6,174 disposal sites across the country. This 2020’s Take Back Day is set for October 24 from 10am to 2pm. If you are not available to participate in the actual event there are several other options when it comes to safely disposing of unused prescriptions. The important thing is that they are effectively disposed of one way or another.
Disposing of Unused Prescriptions
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) details some additional options on their website. First of all, you can check to see whether or not the medication you are attempting to dispose of is on the FDA “flush list.” If it is, it means that it can be flushed down the toilet without contaminating the local water supply. The FDA works closely with numerous environmental protection agencies to constantly update this list, ensuring that the environment is protected and that no contaminants are being unintentionally added to the water supply. If the medication is not on the “flush list,” the following steps are suggested:
- Mix medications with an unappealing substance like dirt, cat litter or used coffee grounds.
- Seal the mixture into a container like a Ziploc plastic bag – make sure that the container is tightly sealed so that none of the mixture can spill out.
- Throw the container away in your household trash.
- Be sure to tear the label off of the prescription bottle or black out all of your personal information with a permanent marker – then throw the bottle away as well.
Holding onto medicines that are no longer needed creates a serious and unnecessary health risk, especially if there are children present within the household. Every year the US sees roughly 60,000 emergency room visits that involve a child under the age of six finding and ingesting an unused prescription medication. It is important to properly dispose of medications not only to prevent new cases of addiction, but also to keep young children safe from harm.