Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: October 25, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky,

Governor Northam Calls On Virginians to Safely Dispose of Unused or Expired Prescription Drugs

Saturday, October 26 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today urged Virginians to properly dispose of their unused, unwanted, or expired prescription medications this Saturday during the 18th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. One of the easiest ways to help fight prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths is to discard any prescription drugs that have expired or are no longer in use. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sponsors National Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice a year.

“As we continue to combat the opioid epidemic, an important piece is the proper disposal of unwanted prescription drugs,” said Governor Northam. “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day provides Virginians a way to responsibly get rid of unneeded or expired prescription medications, and raises awareness of how important it is to dispose of these drugs to keep them away from children and out of the hands of people who might abuse them.”

Unused or expired prescription medications can lead to potential accidental poisoning, misuse, and overdoses. Proper disposal of unused drugs saves lives and protects the environment by keeping these substances out of rivers, lakes, and public water supplies.  

“Misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is a critical public health issue,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD. “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day offers us all a chance to clean out our medicine cabinets and turn in expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs safely and anonymously.”

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. Prescription drugs are intended only for the person to whom they are prescribed, and when those medications are misplaced, forgotten about, or unaccounted for, they can become a danger to others.

“This initiative is an integral part of our work to address the opioid and addiction epidemic in Virginia,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Getting rid of expired medication and unsafe vaping devices prevents these drugs and devices from falling into the wrong hands and harming members of the community.”

Prescription opioid painkillers, when abused, have similar effects to those of heroin and other illicit opioids, and an estimated 80 percent of people using heroin began by misusing prescription opioids.

During the 17th National Take Back Day in April 2019, there were 937,433 pounds of prescription drugs collected nationwide at 6,258 collection sites. 

Visit for more information and to find your nearest collection site.

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