What do Kitty Litter and Coffee Grounds Have in Common?

Cat litter and coffee grounds have both been mixed with unused or expired medications as a method of medication disposal. Another method currently being used is flushing unused medications down the sink or toilet.

“An estimated 250 million pounds of unused medications are improperly disposed of each year,” said Ronna Hauser, PharmD, vice president of pharmacy affairs with the National Community Pharmacists Association, in Elements magazine.

With improper disposal comes many health, safety, and environmental concerns. In response to these concerns, the US Food and Drug Administration recommends using medicine take-back programs to dispose of unused or expired medications. The next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is on Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Other solutions include hosting your own take-back event or offering drug drop boxes for patients to dispose of unused or expired medications.

If you are looking to host your own take-back event, here are a few things to know.

Before the event:

Planning: Start planning about four months in advance. This gives you enough time to contact the DEA and advertise the event.


  • Be aware of potential expenses, such as cost of off-duty law enforcement officers, unless the local police department may provide officers on duty.
  • Take into account the cost for advertising the event (posters, flyers, local news and digital advertising on Facebook).
  • If the local police department is not hauling and incinerating the collection for you, then you will be responsible for the cost for the destruction (transport and incineration). Plus, this involves further steps, such as registering with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to be a collector.

Speak and coordinate with your local police department: To host an event, you will need a law enforcement officer, such as a member of the local police department, present.

Obtain DEA approval: It may be prudent to request approval from the DEA by letter to host an event. The recommended time frame is four months in advance.

Advertise: This is the time to communicate the importance of the drug take-back event and about the proper procedures for returning unused or expired medications. At this time, make sure to advertise the anonymity of this process. This is also the time to provide information on what is accepted and not accepted:

  • Expired, unused, or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins and veterinary medications are accepted.
  • Chemotherapy and radioactive materials are NOT accepted.
  • Inhalers are NOT accepted because they are not to be incinerated.
  • Medical sharps (needles, syringes, lancets and other devices used to penetrate the skin) are NOT accepted. Some recommend having a medical sharps container on site.

Logistics: Determine the hours and a drop-off location that are convenient, and consider parking availability. Select a day and time when people are likely to be able to drop off their medications. In terms of the location, select an easily accessible one. An outside drive-thru drop-off may be the best option.

During the collection:

Staffing: Make sure you are well-staffed for the event. Be aware of the requirement for a law enforcement officer to be present during the event.

Safety: Be sure those involved wear gloves while collecting medications. It may be prudent to wear face masks to avoid accidental ingestion through breathing. Make sure to ask if there are needles, inhalers or other unacceptable items in the bag before handling. Also, it is recommended that the consumer not “black out” the medication name on liquid medications.

Record-keeping: The most common method is reporting the total pounds collected.

For a solution that’s free of stress and hassles, you may consider American Security Cabinets’ Prescription Drug Drop Boxes. American Security Cabinets partners with the National Take-Back Initiative to help keep communities safe, healthy and uncontaminated by preventing improper drug disposal.

Through American Security Cabinets’ products, pharmacies across the nation have the option to have a drop box available at all times. Patients no longer have to wait for a take-back event — this prevents the stockpiling of unused medications and, in turn, may reduce further accidental ingestion.

American Security Cabinets is partnered with RepeatRewards to provide marketing tools focused on customer acquisition, as well as loyalty programs.

“The feedback we receive from pharmacies mainly consists of success stories about the increased traffic our RX Drug Drops bring into their facilities. Customers that didn’t frequent their pharmacies previously, now make purchases and do business with them as they make their regular trips to dispose of their unused medications. The pharmacies also feel like they are contributing to the safety of their community by keeping unused prescription drugs off the streets and out of the wrong hands,” stated Cindy Kayser, American Security Cabinets RX Division.

For more information, about how a Prescription Drug Drop Box can set your pharmacy apart, get new customers through the door, and show your commitment to bettering the health of the community, contact American Security Cabinets at 1-888-268-0298 or [email protected]