For Immediate Release: April 22, 2019

Media Contact:
Ben Truman
Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281


Do Your Part: Drop Off Unwanted Medication on Take Back Day this Saturday

BURLINGTON – Saturday, April 27 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, and Vermonters can once again do their part to safely dispose of unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Communities across Vermont will set up collection sites that offer a safe, convenient and responsible way to get rid of leftover medication. By bringing medication to a collection site, you can make sure it won’t be misused or taken accidentally. Safe disposal also avoids endangering waterways and wildlife, which can happen when you flush medication or throw it in the trash.

Take Back Day is organized in partnership with the Health Department, local and state law enforcement, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). During last spring’s Take Back Day, Vermonters disposed of 6,008 pounds of medication.

“More than half of the people who misuse prescription medication get it from a friend or relative, often straight out of the medicine cabinet,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “This is especially important with prescription painkillers: If you no longer need your medication, please do your part and dispose of it safely, so we can make sure it isn’t diverted or misused.”

Studies show that 42 to 71 percent of opioids prescribed to patients after surgery go unused. “One of the most important things we can all do to help beat the opioid epidemic is to get rid of unused prescription opioids so they don’t end up on the street,” said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Thomas D. Anderson. “So, do some spring cleaning and cull out any unused or unwanted medicines, including opioids. Then take them to the nearest Take Back Day location – no questions asked. You could save a life.”

Medications you do need should be stored safely in a lock-box or locked medicine cabinet.

Here’s what you need to know about Prescription Drug Take Back Day:

Where do I take my unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs?
From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, visit a Take Back collection site. Find one near you at or You can also dial 2-1-1 or go to

What if I miss Take Back Day?
Don’t worry! Vermonters have several options. The Health Department coordinates a system of permanent prescription drug disposal sites, such as at pharmacies and police stations where disposal boxes or kiosks are in areas open to the community. The department also offers free prescription mail-back envelopes. Go to to find a permanent drug disposal site near you or to request a free mail-back disposal envelope.

Do I need to take off labels or empty the bottles?
Not if you don’t want to. Medication can be discarded on Take Back Day the same way it came out of the pharmacy, but you can still drop off medication even without the original packaging. You can remove personal information if you want.

What’s not accepted on Take Back Day?
Liquids or sharps (such as syringes) are not accepted. Look for a permanent drug disposal site that accepts these items at Here’s information about how to properly dispose of a needle in the trash:

How much gets collected?
In 2018, more than 12,000 pounds collected on Take Back Days and at permanent locations throughout the year were disposed of properly, and 1,100 mail-back envelopes were returned.

What happens to the drugs after law-enforcement collects them?
All the dropped-off medication is securely gathered in one place, briefly stored, then transported out of state by the DEA and incinerated.

Learn more and find a drop off location near you at

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