Recycling prescription drugs in Ohio

A New York Times article that appeared in the Sunday, October 11 Plain Dealer included this interesting paragraph:

In some states, prescriptions for noncontrolled substances — those with vastly lower risks for misuse and addiction — are collected and redistributed to those in need. Social services officials in Tulsa, Okla., have about 20 retired doctors who retrieve surplus prescription drugs from dozens of area long-term-care facilities and take them to a pharmacy where they are checked, sorted and donated to low-income residents.

What a wonderful idea, I thought. And why don’t we do that in Ohio?

So I mounted my high horse and wrote four hundred indignant words challenging Ohio to emulate Oklahoma and develop such a program.

Then, just to be safe, I googled “donate unused prescription drugs Ohio,.” and am I ever glad I did. I saved myself one big embarrassment, because Ohio authorized such a program in 2003.

The program authorizes the donation of prescription drugs by only a pharmacy, drug manufacturer, health care facility, or government entity, not by individuals. And the drugs may be dispensed (not sold) by a pharmacy, hospital, or nonprofit clinic to eligible individuals only.

Want to learn more?

  • For general information about the drug repository program, see this page on the Ohio Health Care Association website.
  • For legal specifications for the program, see Section 3715.87 of the Ohio Revised Code.
  • For a history of drug repository programs in Ohio and other states, see this page on the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

When my doctor takes me off a prescription, I’m still stuck with the leftovers, but now I don’t feel so bad about it. I understand why I can’t donate them — once the drug leaves the pharmacy, it’s lost its integrity. So I take them to one of our local Lake County drug drop-off sites. (Cuyahoga County has a similar program: see Disposal of Medicine & Needles on the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District’s website.)

Recycling prescription medications: a Zero Waste program that works for Ohio

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Drug Take-Back Continues: Lake County Opiate Task Force Installs Drug Drop-Off Bins

On Saturday, April 28, he U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take-Back Initiative collected more than 276 tons of medications.

While such periodic collections address the dangers of discarded medications, our unwanted, old, and expired prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs continue to be an ongoing, everyday problem.

  • If the drugs are in your home, they pose a hazard to children and pets.
  • If you flush them, they contaminate the local water supply and give your neighbors unsuspected doses of narcotics, hormones, antibiotics, and steroids.
  • If you toss them into the trash, they may end up in the hands of scavengers who will resell them.
  • If they make it to the landfill, they become toxic waste that contaminates groundwater.

Now, however, rather than waiting for the next National Take-Back Day, local residents have a much better option: they can take their unwanted, unusable drugs to one of the seven Lake County Opiate Task Force drug disposal drop-off bins.

The bins are at these locations (click here for map):

Lake County Opiate Task Force Drug Disposal Drop-Off Bins

Lake County Opiate Task Force Drug Disposal Drop-Off Bins

  • Lake County Sheriff’s Office, 104 East Erie Street, Painesville
  • Eastlake Police Department, 35150 Lakeshore Boulevard, Eastlake
  • Mentor Police Department, 8500 Civic Center Boulevard, Mentor
  • Willoughby Police Department, 36700 Euclid Avenue
  • Willoughby Hills Police Department, 35405 Chardon Road, Willoughby Hills
  • Madison Township Police Department, 2065 Hubbard Road, Madison
  • Lakeland Community College Police Department, 7700 Clocktower Drive, Building A, lower level, Kirtland

Operating hours for all locations are:

  • Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, 1:00–5:00 p.m.

The drop-off locations will accept:

  • prescriptions
  • cold/flu medications
  • pain relievers
  • pet medications
  • vitamins
  • creams
  • cough syrups
  • pills
  • prescription painkillers

Needles and syringes are not accepted.

Leave the medicines in their original package or container, and be sure to black out all personal information on prescription labels before discarding the containers.

The Task Force is also distributing refrigerator magnets that contain this information. The magnets are available without charge at local pharmacies and social service agencies and will be distributed at community events.

Lake County Opiate Task Force Refrigerator Magnet

Lake County Opiate Task Force Refrigerator Magnet

The Lake County Narcotics Agency will destroy the collected drugs.

Unused drugs are hazardous waste: keep them out of the wrong hands … keep them out of our water … keep them out of the landfill.