Medicine Return

Keep Medicine from Becoming a Poison

The home medicine cabinet has become a problem. It is one of the most common places people go when looking for drugs to get high. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nationally more than 75% of heroin addicts were initially hooked on opioid medicines, like oxycodone.

Also, many young children get poisoned from taking medicine not intended for them. Last year in Pierce County, more than 1,500 children under 6 came in contact with or were poisoned by unused or unsecured medicine left in the home.

If you have expired or unused medicine in your home, you may be feeding these problems without knowing it.

Many people think it’s okay to flush medicine down the toilet or throw it in the trash. These are not good options for disposal because they pollute our water and soil.

What You Can Do

In Pierce County, there are 21 places where you can leave unwanted medicine in secure drop boxes. These places include law enforcement agencies and pharmacies. Click here to see a list of drop-box locations and hours. These collection sites do not accept medicine from institutions, medical clinics or other related businesses.

Before you drop off medicine, please:

  • Review the list of accepted items.
  • Keep medicine in original containers.
  • Make sure that caps and lids are secure.
  • Black out personal information on the containers.
  • Place liquid medicines in a disposable zip-lock bag.

You can also drop off unused medicine at free events sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement agencies every year in the spring and fall.

New Secure Medicine Return Regulations

On Dec. 7, 2016, Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health passed a regulation to:
  • Expand drop-box locations to more places in Pierce County.
  • Provide an option to dispose of unused medicine by mail for free.
  • Have the pharmaceutical industry pay for these programs.
The new regulations will be effective Fall 2017. For more information, contact Troy Rowan at or (253) 798-6429.

Administrative Record Documentation

Review the information and documents below to learn about the processes, research and resources we used to develop the proposed regulations.

Get the Facts

Printable fact sheets available below.

Fact Sheet_Public  Fact Sheet_Pharmacies Fact Sheet_Environmental
 Public Fact Sheet  Pharmacy Fact Sheet  Environmental Fact Sheet


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