Unused drugs kept in medicine cabinets, tossed in the garbage, or flushed down the toilet or drain can be serious threats to human and environmental health. Properly removing unused medicines from the home helps protect our communities by keeping them out of our water supply and reducing accidental poisoning and prescription drug abuse.
Drug take-back programs are a great way to safely dispose of unwanted or expired medicines. Some take-back opportunities in Oregon are described below.
Permanent Collection Boxes in Oregon
More than 50 Oregon communities have established permanent, free collection boxes that are open year-round for safe and anonymous disposal of unused drugs. The form of drugs accepted varies by location. In general, all locations will accept drugs in pill/capsule form, but are not likely to accept "sharps" (e.g., hypodermic needles) or mercury-containing thermometers. Acceptance of medical creams varies; check by location on list linked below. These collection boxes are intended for household disposal (not from businesses).
Oregon Public Water Providers are Taking Action!
In 2013, Clackamas River Water Providers
installed more drug collection boxes around Clackamas County (now 10) and established a website
and brochure explaining how to protect their local surface and groundwater supplies from contamination by properly disposing of pharmaceuticals. Their project received Source Water Protection funding (federal grant money) via our agency, Oregon Drinking Water Services.
Your drinking water supplier is likely also eligible for grant or loan funds to implement projects that will better protect public drinking water sources (either surface or groundwater sources). Grants up to $30,000 per water system and loans up to $100,000 per system are available. Learn more here.
Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sponsors National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
twice a year (in the spring and fall) at locations throughout the country, including dozens across Oregon.
Public participation in take-back events has been growing in Oregon as elsewhere. This past spring (2013), Oregon collected 10,422 pounds (5.2 tons) of unwanted pills and capsules at 55 sites - double the previous collection. Nationwide, the six National Take-Back Days to date have removed 2.8 million pounds (1,409 tons) of medication from circulation.
- The next collection event will likely be held the last Saturday in April, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Details will posted as more information is available.
- Find a collection site near you - Check back regularly; sites are added as the event approaches.
Other Safe Disposal Options
If a drug take-back opportunity is not available in your area, the following U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) resources provide some disposal options and special disposal instructions to consider when throwing out expired, unwanted, or unused medicines: