Zoeller: Safely trash unwanted medications Saturday National Drug-Take Back Day drop-off sites available at no cost


greg zoellerINDIANAPOLIS – Indiana consumers can dispose of expired or unwanted medications Saturday at no cost during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller partnered with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to remind Hoosiers to drop off any unwanted medications at one of 84 collection sites.

“State and local efforts alone won’t be enough to end Indiana’s prescription drug abuse epidemic,” Zoeller said. “That’s why we are calling on Hoosiers to do their part and safely dispose of their unwanted medications. This can help keep pills off of the streets and out of the wrong hands.”

All sites will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and consumers can find a location nearest them by visiting www.dea.gov or by calling 1.800.882.9539. Expired, unused and unwanted prescription medications and over the counter solid dosage medications such as tablets and capsules will be accepted. Intravenous solutions, needles and illicit substances like marijuana or methamphetamines will not be accepted.

“During the past take-back initiative, Indiana residents turned in 11.5 tons of medication at 83 locations and we hope to surpass that number this time,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dennis Wichern, who oversees DEA operations in Indiana. “We are urging residents to clear out expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs in the home so that they will be properly disposed of and not be potentially diverted to illicit use and abuse.”

“One in five Hoosier high school students have used prescription drugs found in their home medicine cabinets, like Xanax, Vicodin, and Ritalin, for non-medical reasons,” said ISDH Chief Medical Officer Joan Duwve, M.D. “Many of these drugs were leftover from legal prescriptions written for family members. That’s just one example of why it’s critical to store the medications you need securely, and to dispose of everything else in a safe, environmentally responsible way. Take-back days are a great way to do this.”

Zoeller provided four tips Hoosiers should consider when storing or disposing of unwanted medications:

  • Do not keep medications past their expiration date or intended period of use.Young children or pets might ingest medication if they find it which can lead to accidental poisoning. Avoid an accident by keeping unused medications out of your house;
  • Avoid throwing medications away in the trash. As the epidemic of prescription drug abuse grows, theft becomes more common. This includes identity theft from the personal information on prescription bottles. Dealers and addicts will even go through your trash;
  • Do not flush medications or pour them down the sink. Flushing your unused medication or pouring it down the drain contaminates Indiana’s waterways. This can have devastating results on the fish and aquatic wildlife of these ecosystems; and
  • Never give or sell your prescribed medication to others as it is not only misuse, it is illegal. Legally prescribed medication is not permitted to be shared or transferred to others, because many of these drugs have harmful side effects and their use can lead to addiction. Misuse and abuse come with significant risks — including death.

The Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force is focused on ending the prescription drug abuse epidemic including finding ways to increase availability of disposal sites for unused controlled substances. Duwve, who co-chairs the task force with Zoeller, said members are currently working towards a pilot pharmacy-based take back program.

This year, Zoeller and the task force launched a new website, www.BitterPill.IN.gov, and a statewide public awareness campaign which includes radio and TV commercials about prescription drug abuse. The website serves as a one-stop-shop for consumers to find information about the epidemic and how to get help.