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Health and Safety in the Home: Unwanted, Unused or Expired Prescription Medications


The 2007 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 255,732 cases of improper medication use called into Poison Control Centers across the United States. Of this number, approximately 9% of these cases (23,783) involved accidental exposure to another person’s medicine, including approximately 5,000 cases involving children six years and younger. Also, according to a 2013 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 68% of those who abused prescription opioid medications obtained them from family or friends.

Medication take back programs are a good way to safely dispose of most types of prescription medications. The DEA hosts the National Prescription Drug Take Back event several times a year throughout southcentral Alaska. During this April’s event, a total of 4,123 pounds of medications was collected for disposal across Alaska. The next event is scheduled for October 28, 2017. Between events, the public is encouraged to dispose of their prescription medications that are controlled substances (like opioids or sedatives) at authorized disposal sites. The DEA offers a search tool, Controlled Substance Public Disposal Locations, for participating locations within the community.

As the safe disposal of prescription medications is a year-round activity, the AFD has partnered with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Service’s Project HOPE to provide environmentally-friendly prescription medication disposal bags. Meant for small quantities of prescription medications, this is another means to remove unwanted, unused or expired medications in the home and help prevent accidental poisonings and reduce chances of inappropriate use or theft.

These disposal bags are sealable pouches containing activated carbon which binds to the medication ingredients and breaks them down. Each disposal bag can hold medications in the form of 45 pills or 6 fluid ounces or 6 dermal patches. Syringes may not be disposed of in the bags. After following the instructions on the back of the bag, it is sealed and disposed of in household trash.

Beginning today, the public is welcome to stop by any AFD fire station, between the hours of 10 A.M. and 7 P.M., to obtain up to three (3) disposal bags at no cost. The bags are also available at AFD Headquarters, located at 100 East 4th Avenue next to Fire Station #1, between the hours of 8 A.M. and 4 P.M., Monday through Friday.

The prescription disposal bags obtained from AFD sites are intended to be taken home for use. Please note the AFD will not accept any prescription medications in any form for disposal.

For more information on improving health and safety in the home with prescription medications, see the Do’s and Don’ts of safe storage at: http://www.safeguardmymeds.org/how-to-safeguard-your-prescription-meds/


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