Medicine cabinets across the country are set for a spring cleaning. On National Drug Takeback Day scheduled for Saturday, April 24, 2021, Americans can take advantage of the opportunity to discard supplies of expired, leftover, and unneeded medications.
Sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a "Drug Takeback Day" has been conducted each spring and fall since 2014 as a way to provide consumers with a safe way to dispose of medications and prevent the drugs from falling into the hands of children and other unauthorized users.
As in past years, pharmacists will have an important role in alerting patients about the April 24 event and helping patients locate a convenient drop-off location. In most communities, takeback kiosks are located in law enforcement facilities while in some communities, pharmacies themselves serve as drop-off locations. The DEA offers a quick lookup tool on its website that can identify a disposal location based on a patient's zip code.
In announcing April 24th as the date of this spring's collection, the DEA referenced the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which reported startling statistics that include:
"Many people still don't know how to properly get rid of unused, unwanted or expired medications," the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) noted in a statement. "Flushing certain medications down the toilet or throwing them in the trash can have environmental consequences. However, the harm from accidental exposure to unused medications lying around the home – especially opioids – outweigh any potential risk to the environment."
National Drug Takeback Day has become an important way of removing unwanted medications from the nation's drug supply chain. Since the program's inception, the agency has collected almost 14 million pounds of medications, including nearly one million pounds collected during 2020.
Pharmacists can find more information about this day on the DEA's National Drug Takeback webpage.