Drop Off Your Expired and Unused Prescription Drugs

The City of Boston has drug collection kiosks at eleven police stations--no questions asked.


Pills image via shuttersrtock

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 20 percent of people in the U.S. have misused or abused a prescription medication, and roughly seven million people are current users of prescription drugs for non-medical reasons.

Due to these alarming statistics, Mayor Marty Walsh and the Patrick Administration have announced that the City of Boston will participate in “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day” on April 26. The national initiative is aimed at encouraging the public to dispose of expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs that are prone to abuse and theft.

Boston residents can currently dispose of unused or expired medication safely, easily, confidentially, and for free in a MedReturn Drug Collection Kiosks that are located at eleven Boston Police Department stations. The kiosks are open to all residents, 24 hours a day, seven days a week — no questions asked. This permanent disposal system is a collaboration between the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Police Department, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

“I don’t want to get another call from a mother or a father who is in fear of losing their child, because of a habit that began with pills from a neighbor’s medicine cabinet,” Mayor Walsh said in a statement. “Substance abuse requires comprehensive approaches that include prevention, intervention, and treatment. But if we can get these unneeded drugs out of our neighborhoods, we will be taking a step in the right direction.”

In March, Governor Patrick declared a public health emergency in Massachusetts in response to the growing opioid addiction epidemic. The declaration allowed the Department of Public Health (DPH) to make Naloxone (Narcan) more widely available to first responders and bystanders.

“Prescription drug abuse is affecting far too many families and communities across the Commonwealth,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “The problem is urgent, destroying lives and breaking up families, and it will take everyone working together to combat this epidemic. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is one way Massachusetts families can take action at home to stop this abuse and save lives.”

According to city reps, studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, disposing of unused medicines by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash pose safety and health hazards.

The program has already had success in Arlington, where the police department has collected 15,397 narcotic tablets and pills, totaling 1,000 pounds of over-the-counter/non-narcotic medications since the program began in June 2012.

“Misuse of prescriptions is a leading contributor to drug addiction,” Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan said. “I’m proud of the efforts of our residents, in partnership with Arlington Police, in ensuring that 15,000 doses of narcotics will never be  diverted for unlawful purposes.”

Arlington residents looking to rid their medicine cabinets of unused, unwanted, or expired medications can freely bring them to the drop box at Arlington Police Headquarters, 112 Mystic St., 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For a list of the eleven police stations that have kiosks, please click here.