Attorney General Alerts

Disposing of Unused or Expired Prescription Medications

April 23, 2015

Many Arkansans have unused or expired prescription medications because they are unsure of how to properly dispose of them.

Common disposal mistakes include flushing medication down the toilet, crushing pills or throwing them in the trash. All of these methods pose serious health and safety hazards. The safest disposal method is to give the medication to law enforcement at Arkansas’s Take Back Day on Saturday, April 25.

More than 130 police stations and community centers across the State are providing a safe disposal option with secure drop boxes or staffing stations for Arkansans to discard unwanted and expired medication with no questions asked. The medications will be taken to an off-site location and disposed of safely by law enforcement.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to educate Arkansans about the dangers of unused prescription drugs and proper prescription drug disposal methods available to clear out their medicine cabinets and drawers.

“Take Back Day is an important initiative to make our communities safer,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This innovative program not only prevents children from getting their hands on medication that could be harmful and even deadly, but also prevents the chemicals from contaminating waterways and soil if disposed of improperly.”

Medications can be very harmful, even if expired, because they are still chemically active. If the prescription drugs are merely left in medicine cabinets or thrown away, they can be accessed or abused by children or adults, possibly resulting in hospitalization or death.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, nearly 5 million pounds of prescription medications have been taken out of circulation through Take Back events nationally including over sixty-two tons of that amount were medications disposed of through Arkansas’s Take Back events, which began in 2010.

This year’s event is sponsored by the Attorney General’s Office, the office of the Arkansas Drug Director, both Arkansas United States Attorney’s Offices, the Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas Rotary Clubs, Arkansas Department of Health and 170 agencies that make up the Arkansas Prescription Drug Coalition.

A complete list of collection sites for the 2015 Take Back Day, as well as permanent, year-round collection sites, is available at Take Back sites will be open for collections from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 25. Law enforcement officials at the sites will be collecting prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, pet medicines, medicated ointments and lotions, inhalers, liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers, and medicine samples.

For consumer-related questions, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at (800) 482-8982.

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