Information About Medication Storage, Disposal and Take-Back Program

To: Hospice Providers

From: Greg Fabisiak, Environmental Integration Coordinator, Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability, CDPHE 
Michael Davidson, Communications Professional, Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Safe drug disposal saves lives and protects drinking water supplies 

This information will help you safely store and dispose of prescription medication. Medication is often leftover following the passing of a loved one, and these tips can help you find a safe disposal site. This information is provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. 

Call 303.692.2903 or visit to find permanent household medication take-back sites. 

Colorado Medication Take-Back Program
Managed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Permanent collection sites can be found at participating law enforcement agencies, pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics.

Accepted medicines:
– Prescription medication, including prescribed controlled substances like Percocet, Oxycontin, Xanax, Ritalin, etc.)
– Over-the-counter medicines
– Medication samples
– Medicated ointments
– Vitamins
– Pet medications
– Unused medication patches
– Liquid medications (small amounts in non-leaking original container)
– Unused injection pens (EpiPens, blood thinner injectors, insulin pens, etc.)

Other Disposal Options also lists permanent collection locations managed by others. 

Take-Back Events
One-day events for medication collection may be held in your community from time to time. Check to see the schedule.


How you dispose of unused and expired medications does make a difference.

Store medications safely out of reach of children and pets. Consider a lock box or similar device to store medications safely. 

Visit to find a safe disposal location near you. New boxes are being added around the state. If there is not yet a safe disposal box nearby, check back soon.

Don’t flush pills or liquid medication down the toilet or drain. Flushing pollutes drinking water and could harm aquatic life. How you dispose of unused and expired medications makes a difference. Studies have detected medicines in our water supplies.

If you have no other choice, you can throw most medicines in household trash if you follow these steps:
– Remove medicine from containers and destroy labels to help protect privacy. Recycle containers if possible or hide them in the trash.
– Mix medicine with something that cannot be eaten, such as cat litter or coffee grounds, to prevent accidental or intentional misuse of medicine by children or animals.
– Wrap the mixture in another material, such as newsprint or a paper sack, or place medicine in sealable containers (cans, plastic bags).Throw in the trash on the day your garbage is collected.

DO Take Extra Care When Disposing of Syringes & Patches

– Place syringes and other injectables in a sturdy, puncture-resistant container (#2 plastic, or ) with a screw-on cap. Empty laundry detergent bottles work well.
– Place a label/warning on the container (Example: Syringes – Do Not Recycle).
– When full, place sealed containers in the trash, not recycling.
– Or purchase a plastic sharps container at your pharmacy. Your pharmacy may sell pre-labeled, mail-back containers.

– Only for used fentanyl or Duragesic pain patches: fold in half, sticky side together, and flush down the toilet. These patches are dangerous if not flushed immediately after use.
– Take all other unopened patches to a Take-Back location.
– Be especially careful using and storing pain medication patches; they are dangerous if used other than prescribed and directed.

For more information please contact:
Greg Fibisiak at 303-692-2903

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