Get Rid of Those Old Meds – But Do It Safely

October 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

California public health officials are encouraging consumers to safely get rid of prescription drugs no longer needed or expired, encouraging them this week to take advantage of the chance to do so during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 28.

“Unused medications in homes create a public health and safety concern,” warned the California Department of Public Health in its announcement informing the public that some law enforcement agencies will accept the unused medications at select locations this coming weekend.

Old Drugs

Health officials said unused medications are highly susceptible to accidental ingestion, theft or misuse. Improperly disposing medications in the trash, throwing them down a drain or in the toilet is hazardous to the environment, they added.

“The Take Back event is an important opportunity to anonymously and properly dispose of unused medication,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “The proper disposal of prescription medication is critical for a variety of reasons, including ensuring that the medication will not be used inadvertently or inappropriately by others.”

Locally, consumers can drop off their unused medication between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the East Los Angeles Sheriff Station, located at 5019 E. Third St. in Los Angeles, or in the lobby of the Federal Roybal Building at 255 E. Temple St. in downtown L.A.

Not every police or sheriff station will accept the drugs, so consumers should first visit the Drug Enforcement Administration website at, or call (800) 882-9539 to find other drop off locations.

There is no charge to dispose the medications, including pills, patches, and sealed liquids. Sharp waste, such as needles, however, will not be accepted. The Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Works and LA County Sanitation Districts regularly hold hazardous waste collections events where those items can be dropped off. You can find more information about those events at or by calling 1(888) CLEAN LA.

A 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs, with the majority getting the drugs from a friend or family member, often from the home medicine cabinet.

“We know that the majority of abused prescription drugs are from the home medicine cabinets of family and friends. We encourage all Californians to look at what is in the medicine cabinet and use this opportunity to safely drop off medications,” said Dr. Smith.


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