Take Action on Pharmaceuticals

Do your part to reduce pharmaceutical waste by following these simple steps:

Buy only what you need

When buying over-the-counter medicines, buy only the amount you think you’ll need before the medicine will expire. For prescription medicines, be sure you understand from your doctor or dentist whether this is a prescription you should fill now, or one to fill "just in case” – as is sometimes the case with painkillers prescribed after a dental procedure, for example.

Store medicine securely

Be sure your prescription and over-the-counter medicines are kept somewhere secure in your home to prevent accidental poisoning especially if you have children or pets. This is a very important step to eliminate the potential for drug abuse as well, given that 7 out of 10 prescription pain relief abusers get their drugs from family and friends.

Dispose of medicines promptly when you are finished with them

Bring your unused and expired medicine to a local drug take-back drop-box or one-day collection event where they will be disposed of safely and securely. To search for drug take-back collection locations in your state, visit PSI’s online resource, What Do I Do With My Leftover Meds. If there are no drug take-back collections near you, read PSI’s Leftover Medicine Disposal Info Sheet to follow proper disposal instructions. Note that medicines should be disposed of in the trash as a last resort only if no drug take-back collections are available. Never flush medicine down the drain or toilet.

Learn More

Visit PSI’s pharmaceuticals project page and the Go-To-Guide for Safe Drug Take-Back to learn more about PSI's efforts to promote pharmaceutical stewardship programs, view recent press articles, legislation, and find other resources on this issue.

Contact Your Legislator

You can also contact your state and local representatives to encourage them to should sponsor legislation that would create a sustainable solution, funded by drug companies, to dispose of unwanted medicine safely and securely through a pharmaceutical take-back program. To find your local representative in the state legislature, check out the Library of Congress's website.

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