Rx Drug Abuse Prevention/Safe Disposal of Medicine

Safe Disposal of Medicine
The AMA Alliance passed a resolution encouraging state and county Alliance members to support and further this cause which prevents drug abuse, protects the environment and prevents identity theft.  Currently, Florida, Maryland, Oregon, and West Virginia are actively working on this project.

Please inform the AMA Alliance if your state or its counties are involved with this effort.

Drug Abuse Prevention
Among young children who might ingest pills found around the house.
Among teenagers and young adults who may look for prescription medication in their home to use, share with friends or sell.

Environmental Protection
Do not flush.  This puts the medication directly into our rivers and streams.
Sewage treatment plants do not filter out all the medicine.
There are already measurable amounts of medication in our waterways.

Identity Theft Prevention
Properly remove labels from medicine containers prior to recycling.

To achieve these goals:

  • Keep an inventory of all medicine
  • Store all medicine in a secure place
  • Dispose of unneeded or expired medicine at a “take back” site or by following FDA guidelines
  • Take all medicine exactly as prescribed, never give your medicine to someone else
  • Talk to children about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse

Use “Take Back” Programs such as:

  • “Dispose My Meds” at pharmacies
  • At Sheriffs’ offices
  • DEA events
  • American Medicine Chest Challenge
  • County Medicine Collection Days

The FDA recommends these steps only when drug “take back” efforts are not immediately available.

  1. Place pills in a sealable container, such as a plastic bag.
  2. Mix with coffee grounds, sawdust, kitty litter, etc.
  3. Seal the bag and place in the trash.
  4. Remove personal information from empty medicine containers before recycling.

The FDA maintains a list of recommendations on this topic and lists those few medications that should be flushed when “take back” efforts are unavailable.  Drug manufacturers may also provide information.  You can also ask your healthcare provider and your pharmacist.

Sample Documents:
Sample Brochure
Sample Poster
Sample PowerPoint



State Alliance Safe Disposal Efforts:

Florida has been working with Drug Free Collier County to direct people to venues to safely dispose of unneeded and expired medicine.  In addition, they are working with community partners to put on a yearlong Safe RX program which will include:  the local Alliance is providing all local pediatricians’ the FMAA “Know All You Can Cards” with co-branding, Operation Medicine Cabinet, pharmacy’s distributing information, law enforcement community efforts, a community fundraising event and a physician teaching CME event.  The “Know All You Can Cards” are sold to the public at cost.  These cards allow parents to directly influence their pre-teen and teenager’s lifestyle.   They help educate both parents and children on the dangers of substance abuse.  Their purpose is to offer the reasons why teens say they use drugs, identify signs of use, and expose common slang terms.

Maryland has been distributing materials to teach the importance of the Safe Disposal of Medicine.  Our materials are downloadable from this webpage. In addition, this state has been giving PowerPoint presentations to inform the general public as well as medical society members about securing medicine in the home and how to remove unused medicine from the home and also keep it out of our rivers and streams to prevent its potential dangers.  Their website provides information about dates and locations for medication “take back” events.  They have also participated in these events.  They also continue to speak to local, state, and national officials to encourage their participation and furtherance of this effort.

Oregon received the 2011 HAP (Health Awareness Promotion) award for its very successful organization of a “Take Back” day across Oregon  which was organized to promote public safety and the environment by removing unneeded medicine from the home.   More than 2 tons of unwanted meds were collected.  They have continued to further this effort by informing the public, participation and encouraging “take back efforts” including placement of drop boxes for unwanted meds, and by speaking to government officials on the local, state, and national level.