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Have old medicine you’re not using?

Dispose of it safely at our clinics and hospitals


By Dana Slade, MS, CHMM
March 1, 2018

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Good news! You can now get rid of any unused medicine at several of our clinics and hospitals. This includes common medications such as antibiotics. It also includes controlled substances like Adderall, Ambien and Vicodin.

The danger of unused medications

Opioid addiction is dangerous. And it’s a growing problem. About 3 out of 4 people who use heroin started with prescription painkillers. Plus, medicines in the home are the 2nd leading cause of accidental poisoning. That’s why it is so important to get rid of all unused medicine, especially narcotics.

Unused medicine should not be thrown in the trash. It should also not be flushed down the toilet. Experts say most treatment plants cannot remove prescription drugs from city water. So if they are not disposed of properly, they can end up in our drinking water. And they can harm the health of fish, frogs and other wildlife.

Instead, please use the take-back boxes at these locations to get rid of your old medicine:

the take-back boxesHere’s what the locked take-back boxes at our clinics and hospitals look like. You can use them to safely get rid of any of your unused medicines.

To ensure security and to protect your privacy, the take-back boxes are locked. Once medications are dropped into them, they cannot be retrieved. When the box is full, an authorized disposal company will pick it up. The box and its contents are then burned in an incinerator.

Dropping off medicine in the take-back boxes is free for patients. HealthPartners pays for the disposal as a community service.

Also please note that there are many government buildings that do drug take-back:

Items that are not accepted

Please don’t drop off needles, thermometers, inhalers and medical waste. Our facilities do not have a method for properly disposing of these.

HealthPartners has had a take-back disposal program since 2011. We’ve collected more than 15,000 pounds of medicine, including both controlled and non-controlled substances.

About Dana Slade, MS, CHMM

Dana Slade is Director of Sustainability Programs at HealthPartners. He has worked in the sustainability and environmental health and safety field for more than 25 years. Dana has overseen the expansion of HealthPartners’ earth-friendly practices, including everything from large-scale energy efficiency projects to better disposal of surgery center materials. And he is a champion of further initiatives to improve the health and well-being of the communities our organization serves. Outside of work, Dana enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.

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