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Drop Off Unused Medications on Prescription Drug Take Back Day

National disposal program now accepts vaping devices and cartridges

A woman reading the label on a prescription pill bottle

Tetra Images/Getty Images

En español | Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, a chance to clean out your medicine cabinet and safely dispose of unwanted, unused or expired prescription medications at drop-off points around the country.

This year, vaping devices and cartridges will be accepted for the first time as part of the free and anonymous program, which is organized twice a year by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The agency acknowledged the growing number of vaping-related illnesses and deaths in a press release announcing the expanded guidelines.

"DEA's National Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative helps get unused and unwanted prescription medications out of circulation and ensures their safe disposal,” said Uttam Dhillon, the agency's acting administrator. “This year, we are taking a step further by accepting vaping devices and cartridges as we work with our federal partners to combat this emerging public health threat to the nation's youth."

At the most recent Take Back Day in April, the agency and its partners collected 469 tons of prescription drugs — bringing the amount of medication collected since the program began in 2010 to nearly 6,000 tons (more than 11 million pounds).

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Some restrictions apply: The program does not accept illicit drugs, needles, sharps, liquids, or vaping devices that contain lithium ion batteries. The agency encourages people whose devices contain non-removable lithium batteries to consult with stores that offer battery recycling programs.

To find the drop-off site nearest you, use the DEA's Collection Site Locator or call 800-882-9539. Questions about which medications are accepted should be directed to your specific location. All drop-off sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time Oct. 26.

Can't participate on Saturday? Drugstore chains, including CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens, provide year-round drop-off boxes in their stores. The DEA also offers a location search tool for the disposal of controlled substances.

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