Iowa’s Statewide Effort to Take Away Unused or Expired Medications

Over 300 community pharmacies across the state of Iowa recently launched TakeAway — a program is to safely dispose of unused medications due to the fact that current medication disposal practices commonly used today compromise the integrity of water supplies. Unused and expired drugs pile up in home medicine cabinets, which increase the likelihood for teenagers, older adults, pets, or others to misuse or abuse them. The TakeAway program aims to reverse these trends by providing the public with a safe, easy way to properly dispose of unwanted and expired medications. TakeAway uses community pharmacies across the state as take-back sites. How TakeAway Works Iowans are invited to bring unwanted and expired medicines to a participating TakeAway community pharmacy. By entering a zip code participating pharmacies can be found. The pharmacist disposes of the returned medications (excluding controlled substances) into a TakeAway system, a waste bin specially designed to safely store discarded pharmaceutical products along with their packaging. Once filled, the TakeAway system is sealed and shipped to a medication disposal facility where the entire TakeAway system and its contents are incinerated. This ensures unused and expired medications do not enter water supplies. In addition, the incineration facility used by the TakeAway program employs a waste-to-energy incineration process - meaning the energy produced by incineration is harnessed into electricity. Some participating pharmacies also sell TakeAway envelopes, pre- addressed, pre-postage paid large envelopes that can be taken into the home, filled with unused and expired medicine, and mailed through the United States Postal Service to the disposal facility.