Safe Medication Disposal
The average American household has four pounds of medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter medications drugs. To prevent unused, unwanted and outdated medications from falling into the hands of children and animals, from being misused and from harming the environment, the State of Colorado developed a medication tack-back program to ensure safe medication disposal.
The Take Meds Seriously program was developed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. There are over 40 permanent household medication take-back locations in the state, including one at National Jewish Health.
Prepare Medications for the Take Back Program
Leave in original pharmacy containers, remove the label or cross off personal information, or
Remove medications from pharmacy containers and place in a zip lock bag.
Place medication in a designated drop-box
Prescription medications, including prescribed controlled substances (DEA Schedule II– V)
Liquid medications (small amounts in original, non-leaking containers)
Medicated patches (Used Fentanyl and Duragesic® patches are extremely hazardous. They may be folded in half, sticky-side together, and flushed down the toilet.)
Unused drug injection cartridges, e.g. unused EpiPens® and insulin pens (must be unused with needle still protected inside)
Not Acceptable Items
Illicit drugs (e.g. DEA Schedule I drugs like heroin, LSD, etc
Needles, syringes, and other sharp.
Medical tools and supplies
Bloody or infectious waste
Personal care products
Medication wastes generated by health care facilities, including nursing homes
Safe Medication Disposal Near You
If you live outside Colorado, check with your pharmacy regarding medication disposal.
Look for a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency drug take back event near you.
When you can’t access one of the take-back locations, do not flush your medicine and do not give it to friends or family to dispose for you. Follow the steps below to put it in the trash:
Remove from the original container (make sure you remove the label or cross out any identifying information).
Mix with something that can’t be eaten, like kitty litter, coffee grounds, saw dust, home cleanser, etc.
Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can or other durable container that prevents leakage.
Wrap the container in newspaper or a plain brown bag to conceal its contents. Place it in your trash the day your trash is collected.
Mail-back envelopes can be purchased at some pharmacies. Ask your pharmacist for additional information.