After a recent death in my family we had the unforeseen issue of what do with unused medication. My family members turned to me, the pharmacist, to answer this question. I understood why they turned to me but I quickly realized I did not know how to deal with all of the medications in question. I thought this would be a good platform to share what I learned and prepare you for a similar situation.
There are several options:
1. Nicollet County’s medicine drop box located at the Sheriff’s Office in St. Peter
-ALL prescription and over-the-counter medications are accepted (even pets), INCLUDING aerosols, capsules, creams, gels, inhalers, patches, and powders. They Do Not accept medication from businesses, needles, vape pens, or thermometers.
2. A Safe Medication Disposal drop box located at Walgreens and CVS stores (I know the Walgreens on Madison Ave in Mankato has one)
-Prescription and over-the-counter medications (pets as well) accepted but they Do Not accept illegal drugs, needles, lotions/liquids, inhalers, aerosols hydrogen peroxide or thermometers.
3. Utilizing an in-home drug deactivation system such as Deterra. This system utilizes activated carbon to render all organic medications inert, unavailable for misuse, and safe to the environment. This system does not absorb metals so medications like iron or lithium would not work. Once deactivated the package can be placed in the garbage.
4. On May 31st, 2019 Governor Tim Walz signed into law a bill (created by two pharmacy students) which will create a new pharmacy in the State of MN which collects unused medication, tests them, and then distributes them to people in need. It is estimated that 20 tons of pills end up in the landfill every year. This law should prevent waste, protect the environment, and offer revenue for the state once the pharmacy is established. The plan is to have the new pharmacy up and running January of 2020
Across the United States Americans throw away > $2 billion worth of medications annually. If disposed of down a drain or in our landfills they can find their way into our water supply and wreak havoc on the environment. Another extremely important reason to dispose of medications properly is to prevent them from getting into the hands of our kids, thieves, or drug abusers/dealers. It is up to us to ensure unused medications are disposed of properly.
Together we can be a healthier community.
God Bless – Joe Flynn, PharmD