A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

National Drug Takeback Day: Clean out your medicine cabinet

The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) hosts a National Prescription Drug Takeback Day twice a year in April and October throughout the U.S. This is a good way to clean out your medicine cabinet of old prescriptions. However, there are resources available year-round to take back your prescription drugs.
Prescription drug fact illustration

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 82% of American adults take at least one prescription medication. Twenty-nine percent take five or more. Add in over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins and supplements and you’re looking at a potential danger zone.

In addition, expired medications and discontinued prescriptions only worsen the situation. Dr. Joseph Arias, Marshfield Clinic Health System family medicine physician, suggests cleaning your medicine cabinet every six months.

Spring cleaning is a great time to begin this routine,” Dr. Arias said. “Then make a note on your calendar to clean your medicine cabinet again in the fall.”

Take-back programs for old prescriptions

Some communities have takeback programs to help you properly throw away expired medication or prescriptions you no longer need. Make sure you read the directions carefully when using these services. For instance, many takeback programs ask that you remove the medicine from the bottle and place it into a sealable plastic bag.

Many Marshfield Clinic Health System pharmacies take back prescriptions year-round. Reach out to one near you to find out more.

When these options are not available:

  1. Browse this list for medications that should be flushed. If you don’t find your medication there, continue with steps 2-4.
  2. Mix medicines you shouldn’t flush with inedible substances like dirt, cat litter or used coffee grounds. Do not crush tablets or capsules.
  3. Place the mixture in a zip-top container or sealable plastic bag and throw it away.
  4. Scratch out all personal information from labels on the empty prescription bottles so nothing is readable. Throw the empty bottles in the trash, too.

Sources: CDC, FDA, NIDA for teens, Stowaway Cosmetics

5 tips for keep your medicine cabinet safe

Compare your My Marshfield Clinic profile with your medicine cabinet. Toss out medications that are no longer part of your care plan. Login or register for My Marshfield Clinic.

To return your medicine, visit a Marshfield Clinic Health System pharmacy.

Find a pharmacy location Learn more about pharmacy services

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