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RXIQPrescription Drug Disposal

Your teenagers (or their friends) may look for prescription drugs in your home. In addition, prescription drugs are frequently stolen, either directly from homes or from garbage cans. That’s why it’s  critical to properly keep track of your medications and dispose of any that are unused.

In 2005, two Washington State businesses, Group Health Cooperative and Bartell Drugs, came forward and volunteered to participate in a pilot program, with a coalition of local and state governments and non-profits,  to collect and properly dispose of unused prescription drugs. This program has collected and safely disposed of more than 25,000 pounds of unwanted household medicines since October 2006.     They offer these guidelines:

  1. Gather your unwanted medications. See YES/NO list to find out which items can be returned. Leave items in their original containers. Mark out any personal information if you wish.
  2. Bring medications to a participating pharmacy. See list of locations to find a participating pharmacy near you.
  3. Deposit medications into the secure bin marked for medication return.

 cartoonWhat if there are no return locations nearby?

 What if I have medicines not accepted by this return program?

 News: Partnership Honored for Drug Take-Back 


Content above is courtesy of the Unwanted Medicine Return Pilot Program.

checklockdisposeKeeping proper track of your medications

The information below is courtesy of The SAMA Foundation, which urges parents – and all of us – to be aware of the dangers of prescription drugs and to follow three simple steps: Check, Lock, Dispose.

The first step in controlling who gets their hands on your medications is checking what you have, and keeping careful track of quantities and expiration dates.

Are your prescriptions safe?

For information on the types of medications that can be abused, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It is all too easy for a substance intended to help us to cause us harm. So if you need to keep medicines in your home, keep them under lock and key.

While there is no one device recommended for safeguarding your medications, below are a few ideas:

If you have any tips or products for keeping pharmaceuticals secure, let us know.

  For narcotics and other medications that cannot be taken back to a pharmacy or other disposal site, the Unwanted Medicine Return Program recommends taking the following steps:

1. Keep the medication in its original container.

2. Modify the medications to discourage consumption by mixing them with kitty litter, coffee grounds, or sawdust.

3. Tape the container closed and place in a sealable bag then in a non-transparent container.

4. Discard the container in the garbage (not the recycling bin) and secure your trash to prevent access by children and pets.

It is essential to responsibly dispose of unused and unwanted prescriptions.  Washington State has various options for medicine return. Find details here:

Find disposal site information from around the country.


Do you know about a medicine return program not listed here?  Please share it with SAMA.

The SAMA Foundation supports efforts to create medicine return programs that accept all medicines, including controlled substances.  For more information SAMA’s advocacy efforts contact


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