Recently the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed new regulationsthat will allow pharmacies to collect medicines that people no longer need, including controlled substances. If this comes to pass, it will become much easier for you to safely get rid of unwanted or expired pharmaceuticals. The result is that fewer chemicals end up in local waterways.

This is good news. But, while bringing our unwanted medicines to take back sites is a good idea, there are other ways that everyone can help prevent medicines from impacting aquatic wildlife or even our drinking water. We can address the problem from the other direction—reduce the amount of unwanted medicine in your home by being careful about bringing pharmaceuticals in to your home in the first place. Here are some tips:
  • Purchase only as much medicine as you need.
  • Say “No” to samples if you know that you won’t use them.
  • Talk with your doctor about possible side effects, drug interactions, and the cost of medications. This can save you money as well as reduce pharmaceutical waste.
  • When starting a new medication, ask your doctor to prescribe a limited quantity. Don’t automatically purchase a 30-, 60-, or 90-day supply. That way, if the medication doesn’t suit you, less goes to waste. Do the same for your pet’s medications.
  • Keep track of what medications are in the home so that you don’t inadvertently purchase a product that you already have.
  • Store medicine at the proper temperature and humidity as recommended on the label. Due to high humidity, a bathroom is not always the best place to store medicine.  
On September 27, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., you can bring your unwanted medicines to the final DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. To find a location near you, visit the DEA National Take-Back Initiative. If you are looking for other medicine collection opportunities or would like to organize one in your town, visit There, you can easily connect with IISG Unwanted Meds on social media to see the program’s latest videos and learn the latest news on medicine disposal.