Teach Me

What You Need To Know About National Drug Take Back Day


The 15th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for Saturday April 28, 2018. This day encourages you to properly dispose of unused or expired prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs.

Every six months, the Drug Enforcement Agency conducts a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, allowing consumers to return expired or unneeded prescription medication to a designated safe collection point.

Read about safe ways to dispose of prescription medication

Why Unused Medicines Can Be a Problem

According to a 2015 survey, the DEA notes that more than 6.4 million Americans abused prescription drugs. Many of those cases involved the abuser getting the pills from a family member’s or a friend’s medicine cabinet.

According to Sharyn Welch, the managing director at the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, there’s a very good reason to get rid of your old medications.

“If you are no longer on a medication, whether expired or not, you should discard it as this decreases the chance of kids getting into them,” said Welch. “It also decreases the chance of someone else taking these medications either intentionally or by accident.”

Additionally, Welch noted some expired medications can cause adverse reactions.

In fact, of the more than 41,000 human exposure calls the poison center received, 23,981 cases involved medications or drugs—some involving multiple drugs.

If the expired medication doesn’t cause an adverse reaction, it may not be as effective for the intended cause, noted Maureen Roland, RN, clinical education specialist with the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.

“For example, if you take a medication to keep your blood pressure low and it is expired, it may not have the intended effect and could put you at risk,” said Roland.

However, it’s not just prescription medication that can be problem. People also need to know how to properly dispose of over-the-counter medications. Many medications have instructions on how to dispose of them, but if you’re not sure, call the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center at 1-800-222-1222.

And, there is always the DEA’s take-back day.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

When the DEA has their twice-yearly drug take-back day, there are typically more than 5,000 collection points across the country. Police stations and pharmacies typically serve as a collection point, but the DEA’s Take Back website has a collection site locator.

As Roland noted, this is an important program that is encouraged by the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.

“We want to keep everyone in the community safe from possible adverse effects caused by taking medications that have expired, as well as keeping these medications away from children and those who may misuse or abuse these drugs,” said Roland.

What kinds of medicine can be returned at the DEA take-back event? Well, a lot. The DEA states that the only things they cannot accept are liquids, patches, needles or sharps. The best part is this is a free service and totally anonymous.

Missed Drug Take Back Day?

Don’t worry. You can find ongoing programs across the United States where you can clean out the medicine cabinets. Some Banner Pharmacies offer drug disposal.

Find a Banner Family Pharmacy drug disposal location →  

The important thing is to take care of that unused and expired medication, so no accidents happen. 

Pharmacy Poison Prevention