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Promote Patient Health This Drug Take Back Day

Last updated Oct 29, 2020 | Pharmacy News

Nearly 10 million Americans misuse controlled prescription drugs each year, according to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Improper drug use and disposal come with many health, safety, and environmental concerns. “An estimated 250 million pounds of unused medications are improperly disposed of each year,” said Ronna Hauser, PharmD, NCPA vice president of pharmacy affairs in an interview with Elements magazine. The national drug use survey also found that most misused prescriptions are obtained from family and friends, often from patients’ home medicine cabinets. 

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, created by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), helps Americans and healthcare facilities prevent drug addiction and encourage safe drug disposal. The event is supposed to “educate viewers about the importance of disposing of any unwanted, unused, or expired prescription medications in your house,” according to the DEA website.

Drug Take Back Day PSA 2020


Drug Take Back Day is scheduled twice a year, typically once at the end of April and once in late October. Due to COVID-19, the first 2020 event in April was cancelled, but a second event has been planned for October 24, 2020. Last year, the DEA reported that over 889,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at 6,100 collection sites. 

Pharmacies can participate by promoting Drug Take Back Day as a DEA partner to raise awareness and hosting your own take back event. 

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

Before the event:


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 the cost of off-duty law enforcement officers, unless the local police department can provide officers on duty.
  • Take into account advertising costs such as posters, flyers, local news, and social media marketing or ads.
  • 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.


Communicate the importance of the drug take back event and the proper procedures for returning unused or expired medications. Make sure to advertise the anonymity of this process and 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.


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:


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.


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 patients not “black out” the medication name on liquid medications.


The most common method is reporting the total pounds collected.

For a solution that’s free of stress and hassles, 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 can 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.

“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 sales@ascabr.com.



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