Get Rid of Unused Drugs during Take Back Events

rows of circular and rectangular pills and tablets of different colors

Question: Can I flush my unused prescription drugs down the toilet?

Answer: NO. Although this used to be advised, flushing medications down a sink or toilet has become a major environmental hazard. Antibiotics and other drugs can destroy beneficial bacteria, and wastewater treatment plants are not designed to process these compounds.

Fortunately, you have many options for disposing of unused prescription drugs. With National Prescription Drug Take Back Day approaching on Saturday, Oct. 28, it’s a good time to clean out your medicine cabinet.

What is National Take Back Day?

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration sponsors National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to address a crucial public safety and public health issue. It’s a safe, convenient, responsible way to dispose of unused or expired medications. 

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the majority of misused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, unused or expired drugs can hurt people, pets and the environment if they are lost, stolen or misused.

The DEA’s take back events provide an opportunity for you to help prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. 

Local Event Has U-M Ties

U-M College of Pharmacy personnel will be on hand Oct. 28 to accept items at the Ypsilanti Farmers Market, 400 Rice St., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Use the Frog Island parking lot to loop around to Cross Street, as Rice Street will be closed to traffic. Walk-in and drive-through dropoffs will be accepted. 

Items to Take Back

Items that will be accepted at the Ypsilanti Farmers Market event include:

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medication, including cold medicines
  • Medication samples
  • Patches
  • Medicated ointments and lotions
  • Inhalers prescribed after 2014
  • Liquids and glass vials
  • Veterinary medications
  • Eye drops and ear drops
  • Sharps in appropriate containers (heavy-duty bleach and detergent containers with lids) and sharps containers

But Don’t Take Back These...

  • Chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer and some other conditions are not accepted at take back locations. Extra amounts of these agents should be returned to the pharmacy or clinic that dispensed them.
  • Inhalers prescribed before 2014
  • Blood and infectious wastes
  • Tobacco products
  • Sunscreens and insect repellants
  • Cosmetics and hair products
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rubbing alcohol

Find an Event Near You

If you can't get to the Ypsilanti Farmers Market, look for an event near you. Many pharmacies, police departments and other organizations are participating in local take back events.

For more information about opioid disposal, visit the Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (Michigan OPEN).

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