American medicine cabinets seem to be overflowing. From 2011-2014, almost 49% of adults used at least one prescription drug in a given month, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But what happens to the leftover medicine that’s not taken?

We launched a campaign last month to educate consumers on the importance of properly disposing of that unused medicine. Because unsafe drug disposal causes a lot of problems:

  • Kids and pets could find expired or unused medicines in the trash or elsewhere in the home and mistake them for tasty treats.
    • Approximately 60,000 emergency department visits result from unintentional medication overdoses among children under the age of 5.
  • Trashed medications might be stolen from someone who could abuse them.
    • In 2018, an estimated 16.9 million Americans age 12 and up misused prescription medications.
  • Flushed medications seep into groundwater and may end up in drinking water.
    • One study found traces of a blood pressure medication across 50 wastewater treatment plants.

Earlier this month, two of our pharmacy experts, NABP President Jack W. “Jay” Campbell IV, JD, RPh, and NABP Policy and Communications Director Melissa Madigan, PharmD, JD, RPh, hit radio and television stations across the country to share the importance of proper medication disposal. Our campaign involves regular social media posts on drug disposal statistics and actions states are taking to encourage proper disposal. Please share so you can educate your followers!

We also distributed this PSA.

The last component of our campaign is a bit more subtle. We need you, the pharmacist, to help us spread the word. You can use these resources, as well as the information provided at, to educate your patients on proper medication disposal. Patients may be more likely to properly dispose of medications after learning proper methods.

We thank you in advance! Because when it comes to medication safety, we’re all in this together.