Aspirus Media Center

Safely Dispose Prescription Drugs on Drug Take Back Day


Andrea Modlin, Inpatient Pharmacy Resident

In April 2022, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) removed 720,000 pounds of unneeded medication from 5,144 collection sites across the nation. Since the beginning of National Prescription Drug Take Back Day in 2010, the DEA has removed 16 million pounds of unused prescription medications.


National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is October 29th and aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible method to safely dispose of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for the abuse of medications.


“Too often, unused or expired medications find their way into the wrong hands, leading to accidental poisoning, overdose or abuse,” says Andrea Modlin, a clinical pharmacist who is completing her first year of pharmacy residency at Aspirus Wausau Hospital. “It’s important to dispose of old drugs properly, and one way to do that is to drop them off at a medication drop-box.


Why Use a Medication Drop-Box?


Protect the environment: Studies have found traces of pharmaceuticals in wastewater throughout the United States. Even after wastewater is treated and discharged, these pharmaceuticals persist in the environment.  Preventing medication from entering the environment will maintain the integrity, diversity and value of our natural resources.

Increase Public Safety: According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse & Health, 70 percent of those 12 years & older who abuse painkillers obtained them through a friend or relative, both legally and illegally.

Improve Public Health: Throwing unused or unwanted medications in the trash, or leaving them out, can lead to dangerous unintended exposure to people or animals. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications should be handled and stored just like any other poison.


Communities are encouraged to come together to help rid homes of medications that are old, unwanted, or no longer needed. Drugs can be disposed anytime throughout the year. Aspirus provides convenient public medication drop off boxes at most Aspirus locations. Wisconsin Department of Health alerts community members on what items can be placed in the medical drop-box and where to bring those items.


What to Bring?


Bring: prescription (controlled and non-controlled) and over-the-counter medications, ointments, patches, non-aerosol sprays, inhalers, creams, vials, and pet medications

Do Not Bring: Illegal drugs, needles/sharps, aerosol cans, bio-hazardous materials (anything containing a bodily fluid or blood), mercury thermometers, personal care products (shampoo, soaps, lotions, sunscreens, etc...), household hazardous waste (paint, pesticides, oil, gas).


Aspirus has medication drop-boxes located at Aspirus Wausau Hospital and Aspirus Medford Hospital, but there are others located throughout the United States. To find a drop off location near you, visit Controlled Substance Public Disposal Locations - Search Utility (



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