Medication Disposal Event @ the Capitol

Michigan Pharmacists Association (MPA) hosts a Medication Disposal Event @ the Capitol each year in September on the south Capitol lawn in Lansing.

The 2013 event was held Tuesday, Sept. 10 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. MPA collected 590 pounds of unused, unwanted and expired medications for safe disposal, with an estimated value of more than $1 million.

Click here to read a complete press release that followed the event.

The Medication Disposal Event @ the Capitol allows the general public to safely and responsibly dispose of medications, including controlled substance medications/narcotics. Those dropping by will learn about properly disposing unused, unwanted or expired medications and the valuable role pharmacists play in patient safety.

Keep other pharmaceuticals in their original container since the labels may contain safety information, the container is chemically compatible, and the caps are typically water tight and child-proof. Scratch out, cover with tape or use permanent marker to make personal information unreadable.

This event is held in conjunction with MPA's annual Pharmacy Day at the Capitol, an event designed to educate government officials on the vital role pharmacists play on the health care team. Lawmakers will receive blood glucose/blood pressure screenings and influenza immunizations administered by pharmacists. They will also learn about pharmacy compounding and rapid diagnostic testing as well as how pharmacists can help patients get the most from their medications and manage their overall health.

A press conference is generally held during the event, focusing on the role of medication disposal in reducing drug abuse, preventing diversion and keeping Michigan communities safe.

The 2014 event will be held Tuesday, Sept. 9. Watch this site for additional details in the spring or early summer of 2014.


Acceptable Items

Items that will be accepted at the medication disposal event include the following:

  • Controlled substance medications/narcotics
  • Eye drops
  • Inhalers
  • Insulin
  • Medicated ointments/lotions
  • Medication samples
  • Medications from individuals/households
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Pet medications
  • Prescription medications
  • Vitamins/supplements
Items Not Accepted

Items that will not be accepted at the medication disposal event include the following:

  • Hazardous pharmaceuticals
  • Hazardous materials
  • Injectables
  • Medical/infectious waste
  • Medications from hospitals/health facilities
  • Needles/syringes
Safely Disposing of Your Medications at Home

What Are the Safe Disposal Guidelines?
The FDA first worked with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in February 2007 to establish consumer guidelines on the proper disposal of medications. These guidelines were updated in October 2009, then again in April 2011. A federal guideline summary is included below.

  • Follow any specific disposal instructions on the medication label or patient information that accompanies the medication. Do not flush prescription medications down the toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so.
  • Take advantage of community medication take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused medications to a central location for proper disposal. Call your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service (see blue pages in phone book) to see if a take-back program is available in your community. The Drug Enforcement Administration, working with state and local law enforcement agencies, is sponsoring National Prescription Drug Take Back Days throughout the United States.
  • If no instructions are given on the medication label and no take-back program is available in your area, throw the medications in with your household trash, but first:
    • Take them out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter. The medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash.
    • Put them in a sealable bag, empty can or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.

The FDA Deputy Director of the Office of Compliance Ilisa Bernstein, Pharm.D., J.D., also offers some additional tips:

  • Before throwing out a medicine container, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.
  • Do not give medications to friends. Doctors prescribe medications based on a person’s specific symptoms and medical history. A drug that works for you could be dangerous for someone else.
  • When in doubt about proper disposal, talk to your pharmacist.
  • The same disposal methods for prescription medications could apply to over-the-counter medications as well.

Why Should I Take Precautions?
Disposal instructions included on a medication label are developed by the FDA in collaboration with the medication’s manufacturer. These guidelines are the most appropriate route of disposal that presents the least safety risks.
Some medications, including powerful narcotic pain relievers and other controlled substances, contain instructions for flushing to reduce the chance for accidental use, overdose or illegal use.

For example, the fentanyl patch, an adhesive patch that delivers a potent pain medicine through the skin, comes with instructions to flush used or leftover patches. Too much fentanyl can cause severe breathing problems and lead to death in babies, children, pets and even adults, especially those who have not been prescribed the medication.

Despite the safety reasons for flushing medications, some people are questioning the practice because of concerns about trace levels of medication residues found in surface water, such as rivers and lakes, and in some community drinking water supplies. However, the main way medication residues enter water systems is by people taking medications and then naturally passing them through their bodies, according to Raanan Bloom, Ph.D., an environmental assessment expert in FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

The agency reviewed its medication labels to identify products with disposal directions recommending flushing or disposal down the sink. This continuously revised listing can be found at FDA's Web page on Disposal of Unused Medicines.

Medication Disposal Programs in Michigan

Medicines play an important role in treating certain conditions and diseases, but they must be taken with care. Unused portions of these medicines must be disposed of properly to avoid harm. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers a variety of resources for proper medication disposal on its Web site, as well as a list of medications that can be safely disposed of by patients at home, if they follow proper procedure.

In addition, there are a number of programs available in Michigan that allow pharmacies to get involved in medication disposal, including holding take-back events. Utilize the links below for more information on safe medication disposal initiatives in the state.

If you have questions regarding this event, please contact:

For media inquiries, please contact:


© Copyright 2014 Michigan Pharmacists Association, All rights reserved
408 Kalamazoo Plaza | Lansing, MI 48933 | ph (517) 484-1466 | fx (517) 484-4893 | Contact MPA
Anti-Trust Statement | Site Map | Privacy Statement

Please support MPA's family of companies:
MPA Family of Companies Michigan Pharmacy Foundation Pharmacy PAC Pharmacy Services Inc. PSI Insurance Agency Well Street Care Management