Health Department Urges Proper Disposal of Prescription Medicines

For Immediate Release: Jan. 18, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health

BURLINGTON - An increase in the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs in Vermont has led the Vermont Department of Health to reinforce proper drug disposal guidelines.

Proper disposal should be used for all medications obtained by prescription or over-the-counter in pill, liquid or transdermal patch forms.

“We need to do everything in our power to limit and control the accessibility of these drugs, and proper disposal is a step in the right direction,” said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. “Of the approximately 70 drug overdose deaths in Vermont in 2007, the vast majority involved prescribed or diverted medicines.”

Medications should not be flushed or poured down the drain because they can find their way into rivers and streams and may be harmful to the environment. The drugs should also not be left in their original container, because they may attract prescription drug dealers and addicts. The most effective manner of disposal is incineration of the unused drugs, which is expensive.

The following disposal guidelines are recommended by the Vermont Department of Health:

The problem has become enough of a concern, even among the state’s youngest age groups, that for the first time the 2007 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey, distributed by the Health Department every two years, asked whether or not young people in the state were taking drugs not prescribed to them. The report revealed that 16 percent of 8-12th graders reported taking a prescription drug such as Ritalin, Oxycontin, and Vicodin that were not prescribed to them.

For more information about prescription drugs and proper disposal, visit:


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