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Vermonters Turn in Nearly 3.5 Tons of Unneeded Medication on Prescription Drug Take Back Day

May 5, 2022

Montpelier, Vt. - Vermonters turned in almost 3.5 tons of unused, unwanted and expired medication on the 22nd nationwide Prescription Drug Take Back Day this past Saturday.

The total of 6,950.1 pounds collected eclipsed every previous Prescription Drug Take Back Day except for the event held in spring 2021.

“The continued success of this program is a testament to how seriously Vermonters take the issue of properly disposing of unused medication, which we know can fuel addiction when treated less carefully,” said Governor Scott. “Getting these drugs out of people’s medicine cabinets is a key element of our prevention strategies, and I thank our local, state and federal partners — and especially every Vermonter who participated — for their determined and ongoing work to address the opioid epidemic.”

The twice-annual event is a partnership between the Vermont Department of Health, local and state law-enforcement agencies and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The goal is to help ensure prescription drugs people no longer need are discarded safely before they can be misused. This weekend, there were 64 collection sites across Vermont’s 14 counties. The collected medications are gathered securely in one place, briefly stored, then transported out of state by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and incinerated.

Medications that are improperly stored can pose a risk to the health of children and pets who might accidentally ingest the drugs. Flushing or tossing medicine in the trash can endanger waterways and wildlife. The DEA has estimated that about 10% of the medications collected on Prescription Drug Take Back Day are opioids.

“It’s inspiring to see so many people turning out to safely dispose of their unused and unwanted medication,” said Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD. “This is especially important with prescription painkillers, because more than half of the people who misuse prescription medication get it from a friend or relative, often straight out of the medicine cabinet.”

Here’s a look at how much medication was turned in during previous Prescription Drug Take Back Days:

  • April 2022: 6,950.1 pounds
  • October 2021: 6,825.65 pounds
  • April 2021: 7,165.03 pounds
  • October 2020: 4,498.23 pounds
  • April 2020: Canceled due to COVID-19
  • October 2019: 6,734 pounds
  • April 2019: 6,562.11 pounds
  • October 2018: 5,829 pounds
  • April 2018: 6,007 pounds
  • October 2017: 5,912.70 pounds
  • April 2017: 5,552.9 pounds
  • October 2016: 3,934.4 pounds
  • April 2016: 5,094.4 pounds
  • September 2015: 5,800.4 pounds

Beyond Take Back Day, the Health Department coordinates a system of permanent prescription drug disposal sites, such as at pharmacies and police stations where disposal boxes or kiosks are open to the community year-round. People also can order a free Medication Mail-Back Envelope.

Additional resources include: