DEA Prescription Drug Take Back Day scheduled for April 25, 2020 has been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

DEA will reschedule Take Back Day for a date shortly after the health crisis recedes and emergency guidelines are lifted. During this time, those seeking safe drug disposal options are encouraged to visit the DEA Diversion Control Division locator page.

How your patients dispose of prescription medication is an urgent public health issue

Expired or unused prescription medicines that are kept at home or disposed of improperly often end up in the wrong hands with dangerous results. According to the DEA’s 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health1:

6 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs.

A majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

Improper drug disposal such as flushing down the toilet or throwing into the garbage can pose public safety issues.

The connection to the national opioid epidemic

In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, and of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.2 National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is an important tool for healthcare providers to help prevent opioid addiction and overdose.

Encourage patients to help protect their community and save a life by turning in unused prescriptions for safe disposal

Americans have turned in more than 11 million pounds of prescription drugs at Take Back events since 2001.3 Help your patients participate with these tools:

  • Find a local Drug Take Back collection site here.
  • Learn more by downloading the DEA’s Drug Take Back pamphlets, available in English and Spanish.



If your patients don’t have access to a Take Back program, providers can offer the DEA’s guidance on how to properly dispose of medications to avoid misuse and accidental poisioning.4

  1. Remove the medication from its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter.
  2. Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty bag, or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.

More tips on proper drug disposal can be found on the DEA’s website.

Quest is a proud supporter of Prescription Drug Take Back Day—and we work hard every day to help providers keep patients safe from drug misuse

Quest’s Drug Monitoring program helps providers identify patients at risk of drug misuse, and may be a valuable tool in the fight against opioid abuse

Quest’s drug monitoring program, through periodic urine drug testing, helps ensure patient safety by allowing providers to:

  • Monitor treatment plans
  • Detect other non-prescribed pain medication
  • Manage pain therapy safely by assisting with regulatory compliance
  • Test for other drugs of misuse (such as cocaine or methamphetamines)

For more information, visit

You can also read the Quest Diagnostics Health Trends™ Drug Misuse in America 2019 Report, the largest report of its kind to provide current insights into prescription and illicit drug use and misuse in the United States based on laboratory insights.


  1. DEA. Take back day. Accessed September 26, 2019.
  2. CDC. Opioid Overdose. May 20, 2019. Accessed September 26, 2019.
  3. DEA Diversion Control Division. 17th National Take Back Day. April 27, 2019. Accessed September 26, 2019.
  4. DEA. How to properly dispose of your unused medicines. Accessed September 26, 2019.