Next month, Hoosiers will have the opportunity to dispose of unwanted medications in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner in a program presented by Marsh Pharmacies. Sponsors include the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the Indiana Poison Center, CLS/Med-Turn and Statewide Medical Services.

Marsh Pharmacies will accept unwanted pharmaceuticals at their 41 locations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 13, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 14. To be accepted, all items must be fully identifiable and in their original containers.

The specific types of pharmaceuticals that will be accepted include:
• Prescription medications
• Over-the-counter medications
• Vitamins and nutritional supplements
• Veterinary medications
• Sharps or needles (in resealable hard, plastic containers)

The following items will not be accepted:
• Controlled substances
• Hazardous, poisonous or toxic substances
• Flammable liquids containing alcohol
• Mixed medications or medications in alternate containers
• Medical or household chemicals
• Inhalers
• Business waste

“Wastewater facilities are not designed to remove pharmaceutical products if they are poured down a drain,” said IDEM commissioner Thomas Easterly. “The chemicals will be discharged, untreated, into lakes or streams. This special collection gives Hoosiers the opportunity to properly dispose of expired or unwanted over-the-counter and prescription medications.”

Throwing pharmaceuticals in the garbage also poses a hazard because pets and children can be poisoned as a result of accidental ingestion. In addition, patient information displayed on discarded containers increases the risk for identity theft. Therefore, when turning in prescription bottles, the name of the medication must be visible on the label but personal information, such as name, address and account number, should be marked out.

IDEM first participated in the disposal event in the spring of 2008, and 334 customers brought in 3,543 prescription bottles. One year later, during the spring of 2009, the number of participants increased to 1,023 and the number of prescription bottles collected increased to 14,685.

In the fall of 2008, 7,218 customers brought in 478 prescription bottles. One year later, during the fall of 2009, the number of participants increased to 597 and the number of prescription bottles collected increased to 8,356.

To locate a Marsh Pharmacy location, visit Additional information about pharmaceutical and household hazardous waste disposal can be found on IDEM’s recycling website.