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In Focus

Do Your Part on National Drug Take Back Day: Practice Safe Medication Disposal

By October 17, 2019Community Health

On October 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will host its 18th National Drug Take Back Day. This safe medication disposal event aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs. The event also educates the general public about the potential for misuse of medications.

In April, National Drug Take Back Day led to the disposal of 937,443 pounds of prescription medications nationwide. This brings the total amount of prescription drugs collected by the DEA since 2010 to almost 11 million pounds. Pennsylvania alone disposed of 39,440 pounds.

How Can You Help?

Drug take-back programs work very well to reduce the amount of unused and expired prescription drugs in households, a well-known source for opioid abuse initiation. People are three times more likely to overdose when a family member has previously been dispensed opioids. Over 50 percent of people gain access to opioids from someone they know, which includes taking prescription drugs from medicine cabinets.

Safely manage your medicine cabinet

Wallgreens kiosk

  1. Lock up all your medications.
  2. Don’t share your medications with anyone or take someone else’s medications.
  3. Safely dispose of unused or unwanted medications. When you pick up a prescription, ask your pharmacist for drug disposal pouches or find a drug take-back box.

Ensure safe medication disposal

  • If you want to drop off medications for disposal, keep them inside their original bottle or in a small sealed container (i.e., plastic bottle) or zip-lock bag.
  • Personal information should be removed or marked out with a permanent marker.

Medication disposal list

Acceptable items

  • Prescription medications, ointments, and patches
  • Over-the-counter medications, ointments, lotions, and liquids
  • Pet medications
  • Vitamins
  • Aerosol cans
  • Inhalers

Restricted items

  • Needles and thermometers
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Alcohol and illicit drugs

STOP Initiative Supports National Drug Take Back Day

There are more than 878 take-back sites across Pennsylvania. With more than 140 new take-back sites added across the commonwealth in the last year, safe medication disposal is becoming more accessible. The Independence Blue Cross Foundation STOP initiative supports Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Programs’ efforts by bringing public attention to drug take-back sites in the southeast region.

The STOP Drug Take Back campaign helps raise public awareness of the 153 drug-take back sites in the Southeast Pennsylvania region. The campaign uses ongoing social media promotion and prominent ad placement leading up to National Drug Take Back Day events. This work led to a major success during the April 2017 take-back event, when nearly 20,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected in southeastern Pennsylvania.



Evan Cantiello

Evan Cantiello joined the IBC Foundation team at the start of 2018. In his role as Senior Program Specialist he supports the foundation’s grant making, program development, research and communications. Evan brings to the Foundation more than a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector in direct service and program development locally and on a national scale. As a result, Evan has collaborated across private and public sectors to address the issues of homelessness and substance use and behavioral health disorders. He holds a B.A. from Eastern University and an M.Ed. in Human Development from Temple University. Evan is also an adjunct professor at Esperanza College and Rutgers University Camden.