Medication Take Back 



What is Medication Take Back?

Medication Take Back is a local campaign to raise awareness about what each of us can do to keep our community and neighbours safe when it comes to the storage and disposal of unused and expired medications. There are a lot of reasons why this is so important, which are explored on this page. 



What can I do with my medication?


SECURE Your Medication


Although most medication comes in containers that are child proof, there are still ways that children can open medication. One way to stop this is by making sure that all medication and supplements, prescription or over-the-counter are either locked up or stored out of reach of children. It is also important to keep track of how much medication you have so that you will know if anyone else has been taking it (National Council on Patient Information and Education, 2008)


KEEP TRACK of Your Medication


Keep your family safe by following these simple tips!

- Make sure all pill bottles are tightly closed

- Keep medication in the bottle it came in

- Keep medications separate from other family members so that you don't take someone else's

- Store in a place with good lighting so that you can see what you are taking

- Keep track of how much medication you have taken and how much you should have left

- Use a pill box dispenser to organize prescription medications and take the right amount

- Keep medication in a designated place, out of reach from children


TAKE IT BACK to the Pharmacy


Any pharmacy in the Peterborough City or County will accept your unused or expired medication for free.  All pharmacies with delivery service can also take back your medication when they are dropping off a prescription.  Just let your pharmacy know that you have medication to send back.


Medications that are accepted:

- All prescriptions

  • - Vitamins and other natural health products
  • - Topical creams (e.g. antibacterial and antifungal creams)
  • - Over the counter pills/liquids


The Ontario Medications Return Program has made it possible for all medications to be safely thrown out. All you have to do is take your medication back to any pharmacy, and they will dispose of it for you. Please be sure to remove personal information such as your name, address, phone number, etc. 


For more information on the Ontario Medications Return Program, visit:

Why should I return my unused medications?

There are so many reasons why it's important to return your medications. It protects our environment, your family, friends and yourself.


Here are some reasons why it's so important: 


Medication Misuse


Medication misuse occurs when someone takes a medication that was meant for someone else or takes their own prescription without following the instructions.  It is also possible that someone could accidentally take expired or unused prescription medications that don’t work anymore. 


Taking your drugs back to the pharmacy for disposal is a great way to make sure that both you and your family are safe from prescription drugs.


The most common source for prescription medication is from friends or family. 18% of Ontario youth admitted to misusing pain medication and 75% of these youth said they got the medication from home.  Medications can be stolen and used or sold be other people (Chatham Kent Public Health, 2015). 


There are many risks involved when taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed specificially to that person, even though the medication came from a doctor. When a doctor writes a prescription they take into account many factors, such as your age, gender, other medications you might be taking, food you eat and your state of health as a few examples. These factors are unique to each person and impact how a person will respond to a particular medication, which is why there is increased risk when a person uses a prescription drug without a doctor having considered the factors unique to them.


By using a prescription medication as it was prescribed, by keeping track of your medication, and taking back anything that is unused, you can reduce the risks of harm to your family and friends!





Medication hurts our environment


When medication is thrown in the garbage, put down the toilet, or rinsed in the sink it goes into our environment. This has led to small amounts being found in the environment and water system.  This can affect the health of humans and animals in the community.  Medication should not be flushed down the toilet, rinsed down the sink or thrown in the garbage (Boxall, 2004).   


For more information on the effect of medication on the environment, visit: 


Increased Risk for Falls


Taking many different medications at the same time each day puts an individual at a higher risk for falls.  By taking back extra or old medication, you are less likely to take the wrong medication, or medication that is not yours. It can be confusing to have many different medications, so it’s best to only have the ones you are using in your home (Bauer et al., 2012).


The use of certain drugs increase your risk of falls. These include drugs used for:

- Depression

  • - Anxiety
  • - Sleeping difficulties
  • - Health problems
  • - Allergies


Safe and Free Disposal of Sharps! 


The Ontario Sharps Prevention Program is an Ontario-wide program to ensure the safe disposal of sharps. Sharps are any device that can pierce your skin. These include lancets, syringes, and needles. Putting sharps in the trash can put people and pets at risk of being poked. Sharps should be returned in an approved puncture proof sharps container which you can get free of charge from any pharmacy. Once your container is full, you simply bring it back to the pharmacy, and they will dispose of it safely for you and replace your container.


For more information on the Ontario Sharps Prevention Program, visit:





Bauer, T. K., Lindenbaum, K., Stroka, M. A., Engel, S., Linder, R., & Verheyen, F. (2012). Fall risk increasing drugs and injuries of the frail elderly — evidence from administrative data. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety,21(12), 1321-1327. doi:10.1002/pds.3357


Boxall, A. (2004). The environmental side effects of medication. EMBO Reports, 5(12), 1110-1116. doi:


Chatham Kent Public Health. (2015). Medicine Cabinet Clean Out. Retrieved from


Health Products Stewardship Association. (2014). Ontario Sharps Collection Program. Retrieved from  


National Council on Patient Information and Education. (2008). Tips of safe storage and disposal of all medications. Retrieved from


Shealy, K. M., O’Day, P., & Eagerton, D. H. (2014). The needs and opportunities for medication disposal programs.Political Science, 30(5), 147-150. doi:10.1177/8755122514545519