When opioids or other painkillers prescribed after surgery or an injury are no longer needed, or if a medication was changed, patients may have unused prescription medications in their homes. Is there a safe way for patients to dispose of these leftover prescriptions?

The FDA sponsors National Drug Take-Back Day to remove unused medications from circulation, and ensure their safe disposal. This event, involving local law enforcement and other community organizations, has collected more than 774 tons of medications since it began in 2010.

The 5th Annual National Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, September 29, 2012. Thousands of sites have been set up nationwide, and all locations are collecting medications from 10 am to 2 pm. To find a site near you or your patients, go to www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html and click on “Search for a collection site near you.”

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Patients should be advised to black out any personal information as not all sites will do this for people dropping off prescriptions. For more information on safe drug disposal, go to www.justice.gov/dea/index.shtml and click on “Drug Disposal.”

Lisa Thompson is assistant professor, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Aurora, Colorado.