Medication Take-Back

Remember to take it backMedication Take-Back Peterborough is part of a provincial program that allows an individual to return unused prescription medication to any pharmacy for FREE. This includes:

  • All prescriptions
  • Vitamins and other natural health products
  • Antibacterial and anti-fungal 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.

Why Return Your Unused Medication?  

  1. Medication can be misused.

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. A 2017 Ontario-based student survey confirms that misuse of medications is an issue even in our school-aged youth:

  • Approximately one in ten (11%) students in grade 7-12 report using a prescription opioid pain reliever without a prescription in the past year.
  • 55% of these past-year users report obtaining these drugs from a parent or sibling.
  • About one in ten (9%) students in grade 7-12 report using over-the-counter cough and cold medications in order to “get high”.
  • Males are significantly more likely to report this than females (11% vs. 7%).

There is a risk of overdose when taking prescription drugs that were not prescribed to that person. Just because a medication is giving to you by a doctor does not mean that there aren’t risks to taking it. By keeping track of your medication, and taking back anything that is unused you can reduce the risk of harm to your family and friends!

Chart: 25% access perscription drugs from other places. 75% access them from home.

  1. 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).

  1. Unused prescriptions can lead to increased risk for falls.

Taking a large number of medications per day creates a 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 increases your risk of falls. These include drugs used for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Heart problems
  • Allergies

What about bringing back needles and other sharps?

It’s free to return your sharps to the pharmacy too! And they will give you a box for free! The Ontario Sharps Prevention Program is an Ontario-wide program for throwing away sharps. Sharps are any device that can pierce your skin. These include lancets, syringes, and needles. Putting sharps in the trash can put workers and household members at risk of being poked. You can get a sharps container from any pharmacy free of charge. Once your container is full, you simply bring it back to the pharmacy, and they will throw it out for you. Click the link at the bottom of the page for more information!

Keep your family safe by following these simple tips!

  • Make sure all pill bottles are tightly closed.
  • Keep the 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 pillbox dispenser to organize prescription medications and take the right amount.
  • Keep the medication in a designated place, out of reach from children.


FREE Resources for Pharmacies in Peterborough City and County

All pharmacies freely take back medication and can dispose of the medication properly. To support pharmacies to promote this service, Peterborough Public Health can supply pharmacies with Medication Take-Back resources (e.g. posters, flyers, and container and bag stickers) and can lend their display banner for a week or two at any time throughout the year. Pharmacies can contact Peterborough Public Health at 705-743-1000 for more information.


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:

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