Minnesota law enforcement agencies, pharmacies to collect unwanted prescription drugs

Drug capsules
A variety of prescription drug pills and capsules.
Philippe Huguen | AFP | Getty Images 2012

Local law enforcement agencies and pharmacies across Minnesota will be collecting leftover prescription drugs Saturday as part of a national campaign to slow drug abuse.

It’s the Drug Enforcement Agency’s 18th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. The semiannual campaign allows individuals to anonymously dispose of unwanted prescription medication, and also attempts to raise awareness of prescription drug abuse.

In Hennepin County, three drop-off sites will be staffed by sheriff’s deputies who will collect the medication. The deputies will also provide individuals with free disposal pouches to properly throw away medication on their own.

Other communities around the state also will be taking part. And for the first time, drop-off sites will be collecting vaping fluids and devices, including illegal THC oil cartridges associated with a recent outbreak of severe lung disease.

"People can bring their cartridges and their pods but they are not accepting ion battery devices," said Minnesota Department of Health tobacco control manager Laura Oliven.

The DEA began holding the drug take-back event in 2010 to bring awareness to the link between unwanted medication and the potential for abuse. Many people who abuse prescription drugs acquire them from family and friends.

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 10 million individuals nationwide reported misusing prescription pain relievers, 2 million of them for the first time.

While the event’s main aim is to hinder abuse, dropping off leftover medication is also an eco-friendly alternative, said Cody Wiberg, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy.

"They take them to an incinerator, which is the best way to destroy them,” Wiberg said. “[It’s] the most environmentally-friendly way to destroy them, rather than flushing them into the sewer system.”

The drop-off sites staffed by Hennepin County deputies are:

  • Cub Foods at The Quarry – 1540 New Brighton Blvd, Minneapolis

  • Cub Foods – 13855 Rogers Drive, Rogers, Minn.

  • Jubilee Foods – 2131 Commerce Blvd, Mound, Minn.

More drop-off sites around the state can be found at takebackday.dea.gov.

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