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April 24 is National Rx Take Back Day

  • Category: LVMC Updates
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  • Written By: Lompoc Valley Medical Center
April 24 is National Rx Take Back Day

There are probably a few unused or expired prescription medications in your bathroom or cabinets if you're like many people.

But it’s important to think twice before you toss them in the trash.

Did you know those pill bottles, inhalers, and creams are a public safety issue? Medications not properly disposed of may be retrieved from your trash and abused or illegally sold. That can lead to accidental poisoning, overdoses, and other medication abuse.

The nation recognizes DEA National Rx Take Back Day on April 24. Throughout the country, the Drug Enforcement Administration, in partnership with federal, state, and local law enforcement, businesses, medical offices, first responders, and more, will host events to allow people to dispose of unwanted medications safely. Safely disposing of unwanted or expired medications is also one way to make a difference in the opioid crisis.

LVMC was the first facility in Santa Barbara County to receive a “MED-Project” medication disposal kiosk. The bright blue bin is in place at the acute hospital, in the outpatient waiting room near the Cardiopulmonary and Laboratory departments.

The kiosk results from a Santa Barbara County “Safe Drug Disposal” ordinance that requires any producer of prescription and over-the-counter drugs offered for sale in Santa Barbara County to participate in an approved drug stewardship program for collection and disposal of unwanted medications.

Since the kiosk installation, LVMC has returned 17 40-gallon size boxes of medications to the Safe Drug Disposal coordinator.

In 2020, Americans turned in almost 493 tons (more than 985,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at 4,587 collection sites. Overall, in the past 19 Take-Back events, more than 13 million pounds have been collected, or more than 6.8 tons of pills. In California alone last year, almost 53,000 pounds of pills were collected.

“Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse,” according to the DEA. “Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows year after year that the majority of misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including someone else’s medication being stolen from the home medicine cabinet.”

Additionally, more effort is being made to advise people against disposing of unused medicines by flushing them down the toilet – creating a possible water pollution risk.

The LVMC secured kiosk is available for the disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications in any dosage form. However, specific items are prohibited, including cosmetics, personal care products, herbal remedies, vitamins, compressed cylinders, aerosols, inhalers, medical devices, sharps (needles), and illicit drugs thermometers containing mercury, and any medications containing iodine.

For a list of safe disposal sites in the Lompoc Valley, log onto