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How to donate unused prescription medications

Updated March 23, 2017

Improper disposal of prescription drugs can result in contamination of the local groundwater. To prevent this, prescription drug repositories have been established to take in unopened, unused medications. Anyone can participate, but all donations are inspected before they are accepted. There are other restrictions as well. In addition, repositories help individuals who cannot afford medications by recycling them. The recipient can get drugs for little to no charge. Here's how to donate your unused prescription medications.

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  1. Contact your state's Department of Health to locate a repository. The program isn't evenly spread throughout the country, so you may have to go for a drive in order to get to the repository.

  2. Collect your medications and inspect them. Repositories cannot take open medications. Make sure that the seals on packages are not tampered with. Medications in prescriptions bottles cannot be donated, but can be returned to the pharmacy that prescribed them for proper disposal.

  3. Collect any documentation that came with the drugs. Most prescriptions have a label on them, which says who they were originally prescribed to. Those that do not must be accounted for. The repository may need proof that the drugs are your own, prescribed to you through a doctor. An individual cannot donate drugs from institutions like prisons and nursing homes often.

  4. Check the expiration date. That date must be sometime in the future. Expired drugs are not accepted.

  5. Tip

    Drugs prescribed through clinical trials as well as other experimental drugs are not recyclable. Return unused portions of these drugs to the pharmacy or doctor who prescribed them for proper disposal.

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Things You'll Need

  • Prescription Medications
  • Documentation for those Medications

About the Author

Jonita Davis is freelance writer and marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including "The LaPorte County Herald Argus" and Work.com. Davis also authored the book, "Michigan City Marinas," which covers the history of the Michigan City Port Authority. Davis holds a bachelor's degree in English from Purdue University.

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