Take Back Unwanted Meds

How many times have you looked at a leftover bottle of prescription medications and thought, "I'll keep these in case I get sick again later?" Or maybe you know a person whose medicine cabinet looks like a commercial pharmacy? Perhaps you felt like getting rid of medications was more of a hassle, and just stuck the expired or unused bottle back on the shelf?

The enormity of the opioid crisis can feel overwhelming, especially with headlines warning of increased overdoses and deaths. As simple as it sounds, however, keeping current medications safely stored or locked away and quickly disposing of unused medication is a way for you to help fight the opioid epidemic.

Risks of Improper Storage or Disposal

About one-third of medicines sold to consumers go unused. Storing unwanted or expired medicines in our homes contributes to the epidemic of medicine abuse and preventable poisonings in our community. Improper disposal of medicines down the drain or in the household trash adds to pharmaceutical pollution in the environment. Taking unused, unwanted, or expired medications to a secure medicine return kiosk ensures they will not fall in to others' hands or end up polluting local waters.

Here in Washington, 26 percent of poisonings and deaths were caused by someone else's over-the-counter medications. Another 32 percent were caused by someone else's prescription medications. In Snohomish County, overdoses are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths, and two-thirds of those involved opioid prescription drugs or heroin.

Map of medication disposal kiosks in Snohomish County (MED-Project - image is link)

Pharmaceutical Stewardship Programs

Disposing of unwanted medication is as simple as entering a ZIP code on the MED-Project website to locate a kiosk. These kiosks are located in pharmacies, grocery stores and police stations near you.

Don't have a location nearby, or can't drive? You can call the hotline at 1-844-MED-PROJ or visit the mail-back page of the MED-Project website to request a pre-paid envelope to return your unwanted or expired medicine. Home healthcare professionals providing services to differentially-abled or home-bound residents may also request an envelop on behalf of their client(s).

The Do's & Don'ts of Secure Medicine Return

Before disposing of your medicines, be sure to remove all personal identification from the bottle such as your name and prescription number. Medications can be disposed of in their original packaging or in a sealed bag. If you transfer you medications to a sealed bag, recycle all remaining packaging.

MED-Project kiosks do not accept herbal remedies, vitamins, supplements, cosmetics, other personal care products, compressed cylinders, aerosols, inhalers, medical devices, pet pesticide products, illicit drugs and iodine-containing medications. Sharps are also not accepted and should be properly disposed of in a sharps container.