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Prescription drug take-back box program

The Pennsylvania prescription drug take-back program is focused on alleviating the health and safety concerns from the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs by helping our citizens properly dispose of unused prescription medications. Many young people who abuse prescription drugs take them from medicine cabinets. Keeping unused opioids or other common drugs of abuse in a medicine cabinet is no longer safe or responsible.

The DDAP, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA), has worked to facilitate the installation of secure, permanent prescription drug take-back boxes in communities throughout the state.

Why you should properly dispose of unwanted prescriptions

  • Prescription drugs involved in overdoses are almost all originally prescribed by physicians
  • In the past 10 years, prescription drug abuse has quadrupled; it now results in more deaths than all illicit street drugs combined
  • Two percent of 12th graders have misused or abused prescription narcotics, five percent tranquilizers, and 10 percent stimulants (e.g. Adderall and Ritalin).
  • Improper disposal of prescription drugs can create environmental hazards impacting groundwater, rivers, and harming wildlife. 

How to prepare items for disposal

  • All pharmaceutical drugs to be disposed of must be placed in a sealed container such as the original bottle or zip-lock bag
  • Liquid pharmaceuticals should remain in the original container
  • Personal information should be removed or marked out with a permanent marker

You can dispose of:  

  • Prescription and over-the-counter solid medications
  • Tablets and capsules
  • Pet Medicines 

You may not drop off:

  • Intravenous solutions
  • Injectables, syringes, and needles (i.e. EpiPens)*; these need to be taken to a health care professional's office or to a hospital for disposal
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Compressed cylinders or aerosols (e.g., asthma inhalers)
  • Iodine-containing medications
  • Thermometers
  • Alcohol & illicit drugs (i.e. marijuana, heroin, LSD, etc.)

The PCCD has awarded grants to district attorneys in 29 Pennsylvania counties for permanent drug take-back boxes.