Skip to main content

Proper Drug Disposal Safer and Easier Than Ever


Alongside the bottle of ibuprofen and your prescriptions in your medicine cabinet are probably handfuls of old pills, gone unused for years. You can't just throw them away or run them down the drain, and trying to remember how to properly dispose them can be tough. Well, now it's easier than ever to get rid of those expired and unused medications.

University of Utah Health Care has 10 locations throughout the valley and Park City with free, anonymous drop off boxes for expired and unused medications.

"Everyone has that bottle of old cough syrup, or the yellowing box of old pills. And it's safer and easier than ever to get rid of them," said Nathan Hagen, PharmD, outpatient pharmacy manager for University of Utah Health Care.

"There are large, secure boxes in the lobbies of most University Health Care pharmacies for placing expired medications or medications no longer being used", said Scott Silverstein, M.S., Huntsman Cancer Institute pharmacy director. Properly disposing of these drugs can prevent misuse and abuse of drugs that can lead to illness, injury or even death.

There has been a significant increase in the use of the drop-off boxes since they were installed last fall – from about 60 pounds each month, to nearly 500 pounds in March, said Silverstein,

"I tell patients to just go through their medicine cabinets and clean them out," Silverstein said. "Get rid of anything that has expired, you're not using anymore or isn't prescribed for you. Bring them to a designated U of U pharmacy next time you're filling a prescription or in the neighborhood."

Although all types of prescription medicines can be deposited, properly disposing of controlled substances (painkillers) is particularly important. Each month in Utah more than 20 people die as a result of prescription pain medication. Utah ranks fourth highest for drug overdose deaths in the country, most of which come from prescription pain medication overdoses, according to the Utah Department of Health. Properly disposing of painkillers can help prevent accidental use and theft, said Hagen.

"In the past, people had to take their unused and expired medication to the police station, or wait for scheduled drop off days. But now there are bins all over Utah, and there's no excuse to keep unused or expired medications," he said.

For more information visit To find drop-off locations by county, visit For other questions, call your medical providers, pharmacists or Utah Poison Control Center, 1-800-222-1222.

What should be Disposed?

  • Expired medications
  • Unused medications
  • Controlled substances