Preparing for Drug Take Back Day

By: Stericycle

Hosted bi-annually by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), National Prescription Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient and sustainable means of disposing prescription drugs all while educating the general public about the potential abuse of medications.

The last Drug Take Back Day in April saw record participation from law enforcement partners and collection locations, including nearly 5,000 partners operating more than 6,200 collection sites across the country. Nearly 1 million pounds of prescription drugs were collected.

Why participate?

Nearly 15% of Americans have offered or given their unused prescription drugs, including opioids, to a friend or family member, and one in four Americans admit they’ve been offered or given unused prescription drugs by a friend or family member – for either medical or recreational use. Additionally, one study found that 86% of participants had used opioid pain relievers nonmedically prior to using heroin, and their initiation into nonmedical use was characterized by three main sources of opioids: family, friends, or personal prescriptions available in the home.

Participating in a drug take back program is the only safe way to remove leftover medications from the home and in the environment. Removing these medications from the home and the environment – by rendering them completely destroyed and non-retrievable per DEA guidelines via drug take back programs and incineration – is a crucial prevention strategy to protect public health, the environment and the quality of our drinking water.

Events like National Prescription Take Back Day are a great way for communities to clear out their medicine cabinets and safely dispose of any leftover medications. Since National Prescription Take Back Day only happens every six months, residents should be sure to stay connected on other local take back days throughout the year. Alternatively, check to see if your pharmacy, hospital or law enforcement offices have a year-round drug take back option available. 

How to prepare

Be sure to look up the nearest drug collection site near you before Oct. 26. As of April 2019, 70% of the U.S. population now lives within five miles of a permanent drug disposal collection site, so there’s likely a collection site near you. The DEA has a website of public disposal locations searchable by zip code or city/state. Be sure to check back often, as sites are added daily.

Consumers should bring unused or expired medication in its prescription bottle or inside a clear, sealed bag.  Personal health information such as names, addresses and health insurance information should be blacked out, or labels on prescription bottles should be removed, prior to disposal at a collection event.  At the collection site, trained volunteers will handle the pills and ensure proper disposal.

How we’re taking action

For 30 years, Stericycle has been the complete provider of safe and compliant medication and sharps disposal solutions. Our award-winning suite of drug take back solutions, including Seal&Send medication mail back envelopes and medication collection kiosks, can help protect your community’s environment and overall health year-round.

Seal&Send envelopes provide a safe and convenient option for consumers to dispose of their unused or expired drugs by filling a pre-addressed envelope with up to 8 oz. of pharmaceutical waste and dropping it into any USPS mailbox. The envelopes are perfect for distribution to employees, customers or patients, and Stericycle recently distributed the envelopes to all U.S. employees to prevent drug diversion and environmental contamination in our own workforce.

Stericycle’s medication collection kiosks also offer a reliable, anonymous outlet for consumers to dispose of unwanted drugs in a safe place within their communities.

In addition to our drug take back program, Stericycle also offers the following solutions to prevent prescription drug diversion and infectious disease contamination due to the increase in needles usage fueled by the opioid crisis:

  • Sharps/Medical Waste Mail Back: Prepaid mail back containers and accessories ranging in size from 1.4 qt to 3 gal for safe and convenient disposal of sharps and medical wastes generated either from businesses or from individuals.
  • CSRx: 1- and 3-gallon containers with a charcoal solidifying agent to securely manage DEA controlled pharmaceutical wastage to meet non-retrievable controlled substances standards.
  • Hazardous Drug Disposal Services: 8- or 18-gallon DOT-approved containers & online training support to meet EPA/DOT requirements for disposal and training for drugs regulated as hazardous waste by EPA.

Recently, Stericycle partnered with the National Safety Council (NSC) as the exclusive launch sponsor of the NSC’s new Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit that employers can use to address the opioid crisis in their workforces. A survey released by the NSC earlier this year indicated 75% of employees have been directly impacted by opioid misuse, but just 17% feel extremely well prepared to address it. Among the HR resources included in the toolkit are sample policies and plans, videos, interactive web tools, and industry-specific workplace-data and statistics.

Click here to learn more about our household drug take back solutions. To learn more about the NSC’s Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit, click here.