National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Is April 27

By Dennis Hinkamp | April 23, 2024


Take back day

The Utah State University Health Extension: Advocacy, Research, and Teaching Initiative, also known as HEART, announced that Saturday, April 27, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

According to Ashley Yaugher, USU Extension health and wellness faculty, the purpose of Take Back Day is to provide safe areas for local community residents to drop off unused, unwanted, or unneeded prescription or over-the-counter medications anonymously and without repercussions.

“There are other opportunities to safely dispose of medications any time, but twice a year in April and October, it is considered a national event,” she said. “The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) collects these substances and takes them to a destruction facility where they'll be destroyed or neutralized in a safe manner.”

Chad Wilkins, Utah National Guard program manager for the Drug Demand Reduction Outreach team, helps run Utah trainings throughout the year.

“If not handled and disposed of properly, drugs can get into our environment and cause problems with culinary and farm water,” he said. “Or, they can get into the hands of people who don't know how to handle them properly.”

Wilkins said for the biennial event, his group works closely with the DEA and local coalitions throughout the state and helps them partner with their law enforcement agencies to put on successful Take Back Day programs.

“At these events, you can drop off unused, unwanted, expired medication, whether it is prescribed by a doctor or over-the-counter cough syrup that is expired or no longer needed,” he said. “The Take Back Day also includes unused or expired pet medications.”

Wilkins said the program also accepts vape devices and cartridges, but can’t take anything with batteries. For safety reasons, he advises removing the batteries and disposing of them separately.

He said there is a separate method of turning in sharps (syringes), and the Utah Syringe Services program provides sharps containers for various events so they can be disposed of properly.

Yaugher said National Take Back Days are a great opportunity to go through your medicine cabinets at least twice yearly. By disposing of unused and expired prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, liquid medicines or pill packs, syringes, and e-cigarettes or vape devices, you can keep your home and community safer. 

“Approximately 50% of people who use opioids other than prescribed get them from family or friends with good intentions, but the problem is that sharing medications is harmful and can lead to opioid or other substance use disorders,” she said.

To assure anonymity, the DEA requests that you remove identifiable information from bottles by blacking it out or removing the ID tag. Loose pills can be placed in a plastic bag.

If you miss Drug Take Back Day, most communities have year-round drop-off locations for safe drug disposal. Check the DEA website at for locations near you.