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IDEM has developed a list of local medicine collection programs [XLS] throughout Indiana. Additionally, many pharmacies offer for sale postage-paid envelops which are used to mail in non-controlled substances for disposal.
Many of Indiana's local household hazardous waste collection programs accept unwanted medicine. To find a household hazardous waste collection program for your county, look at the Solid Waste Management Districts map or contact IDEM's Office of Pollution Prevention and Technical Assistance, toll-free at (800) 988-7901, or directly at (317) 232-8172.
Remember, it is illegal to give controlled substances to anyone other than a police officer or a person who is under law enforcement supervision. All programs that accept controlled substances must be operated under the supervision of law enforcement.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration website has additional information about controlled substances. Drugs.com, among other websites, has a Pill Identifier web tool to use in looking up information about prescription medicines.
If you must throw away unwanted or expired medicines, follow these instructions to protect your family and the environment:
More information about household needles or sharps collection programs and the safe management of sharps is available from the Recycle Indiana website.
Unwanted and expired medicine may be a risk to human health and the environment if disposed of improperly.
Traditionally, Hoosiers were encouraged dispose of unwanted or expired medicine by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it down a drain. However, wastewater treatment plants and septic systems are not designed to deal with pharmaceutical waste. Many medicines pass through the systems and are released into streams, lakes, and groundwater.
Medicine in surface water may cause adverse effects in fish and other aquatic wildlife, as well as unintentional human exposure to chemicals in the medicine. Technological improvements are helping scientists detect trace amounts of medicine in surface water and study how it affects human and environmental health, but the research is just beginning.
U.S. Geological Survey research found that some aquatic organisms living in waters downstream from wastewater treatments plants are showing signs of developmental and reproductive problems. Researchers are working to determine whether these impacts are the effects of pharmaceuticals in the environment.
In the meantime, the best way to reduce the impact of pharmaceutical waste on the environment is to dispose of medicine properly. Find an Unwanted Medicines Collection Program [XLS] near you or read the Unwanted Medicines Fact Sheet (available on the IDEM Fact Sheets page) to properly dispose of medicine.
Indiana's pharmacists, educators, health care providers, and waste managers raised concerns about:
In response to these concerns, IDEM developed the following information about unwanted medicine:
If you or your organization are planning an unwanted medicine collection event, contact IDEM via email at "recycle at idem.in.gov" or call us at (800) 988-7901, extension 3-6660 for assistance. The following resources are available to assist in planning medicine collection events or programs.
If your unwanted medicines collection event is not included in the Unwanted Medicines Collection Programs list, please email "recycle at idem.in.gov", or call (800) 988-7901, with program information so it can be included.