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April 26 National Prescription Take-Back Day

Experts used to tell us to flush our unneeded and out-of-date prescription medications down the toilet. Although we’ve known for some time this is not a safe option because it puts those drugs into the water supply, other than putting them in the trash, which can also be dangerous, it’s hard to know what in the world to do with them.

Luckily, a couple times a year the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) coordinates a National Prescription Take-Back Day. Local law enforcement agencies host events in their communities all across the country. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, April 26, 2014, from 10 am – 2 pm.

Important things to know:

  • There is no cost associated with participating.
  • Law enforcement will not ask for or collect any information from you.
  • The medications need not be prescribed to you for you to leave them at the collection site. For instance, if you want to take a family member’s unneeded medications with your own, you may.
  • New collection sites will be added to the list until right before the date. So even if you don’t find a site near you when you first search, please continue to check back.
  • If you have any questions, you can call 1-800-882-9539 for help.

Interestingly, the Food & Drug Administration still recommends flushing a number of medications despite what we know about the hazards of this practice. The Environmental Protection Agency has been publicly discussing the problems with flushing medications since at least 2007. It would be wonderful if the DEA and FDA caught up with what we currently know and adapted their recommendations accordingly.

In the meantime, take advantage of a Take-Back Day collection event in your area to get rid of your old medications in the safest manner possible.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. 1. Environmental Protection Agency, "Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products," Accessed April 4, 2014, Available at:
  2. Drug Enforcement Agency Office of Diversion Control, "National Take-Back Initiative," Accessed April 4, 2014, Available at:
  3. California State Board of Pharmacy, "Don't Flush Your Medicines Down the Toilet!" Accessed April 4, 2014, Available at:
  4. U.S. Food & Drug Administration, "Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know," Page last updated November 25, 2013, Accessed April 4, 2014, Available at:


  • bluesguy
    5 years ago

    Hi, this is a very interesting topic. If one was to speak with an honest physician, pharmacist, or Pharmacy researcher, then one would know that most of the medication that give expiration dates actually will not expire for many years to come, that is if they are stored properly,( in a cool dry place below 77 degrees). Most of these medications will out life us all, and remain effective and safe. Please don’t shoot the messenger. I worked in the medical field for over 22 years.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    Thank you for writing about this. It’s a very important topic. I probably have 20 different half-used prescription bottles at home that need to properly be disposed of. As Migraineurs, our doctors are always changing our meds to try and find the right combination that works for us so we can really start a collection of meds. Having so many medications in a cabinet or drawer also raises concerns about children getting into them or any family or service workers you let in your home who could potentially take them from you without you ever knowing. Practicing safe medication storage and usage is something we all need to think about and participating in these drug take-back days is a great first step!!!

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