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Military Health System

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Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ramon Paul, service chief of WRNMMC Ambulatory Procedure Unit, demonstrates how easy it is to safely dispose of unused or expired prescriptions using one of two MedSafe collection bins at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. (Photo by Vernishia Vaughn, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center)

Drug Take Back Program

The Military Health System established the Drug Take Back program to help beneficiaries properly dispose of their prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.

  • The program is available at all military pharmacies in United States and Puerto Rico.
  • Military pharmacies in all other overseas areas will operate under the medication disposal guidance of their host nations. 

Requirements for Military Pharmacy Disposal Sites

Military pharmacies operating as disposal sites must meet strict U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) guidelines for collecting and ultimate disposal of prescription drugs.

Drug Take Back Options

Military pharmacies will offer one or both of the following drug take back options:

  • Mail-in envelopes distributed at military pharmacies
  • Secure receptacles at military pharmacies

The preferred national vendor is Sharps Compliance, Inc. You can get materials for your facility through Defense Logistics Agency national purchasing contracts. 

Frequently Asked Questions

View the following questions and answers about the MHS Drug Take Back Program.


Why is drug take back important?


Prescription pain drugs are the second-most commonly abused category of drugs in the U.S.

  • When used as directed, prescription drugs are safe and effective.
  • When abused, prescription drugs can be dangerous, addictive and deadly.

The availability of unwanted, unused, and expired prescription drugs are a major contributor to prescription drug abuse. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, more than 70% of prescription pain drug abuse involved drugs obtained from a friend or relative, and nearly one third of suicide attempts among veterans involve prescription medication. Our beneficiaries can reduce these risks by safely disposing their drugs through the MHS Drug Take Back program. 


What kind of drugs can we accept through the MHS Drug Take Back program?

  • Both prescription and over-the-counter drugs
  • Pills, tablets, capsules
  • Ointments
  • Creams
  • Lotions
  • Powders
  • Liquid medicines (no more than 4 oz.)

Are there any drugs we can't accept at our facility through the MHS Drug Take Back program?


You can’t accept any of the following items at your facility. Please direct patients to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Website for details about disposing of these and other hazardous materials.

  • Illegal drugs
  • Aerosol spray cans
  • Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
  • Needles, syringes or sharps containers
  • More than 4 oz. of liquid
  • Trash
  • Mercury thermometers
  • Batteries
  • Chemicals
  • Home-based care or durable medical equipment supplies

We already participate in other drug take back events. Are we still allowed to participate in these throughout the year?


Yes. In addition to these MHS Drug Take Back activities, you can participate in law enforcement-sponsored drug take back events that occur throughout the year.


Can a pharmacy staff member accept unused, unwanted, or expired drugs from patients to dispose?


No. Per DEA rules, pharmacists and other pharmacy staff cannot accept drugs from a patient to dispose of. They must physically put the drugs in the collection bin or envelope.

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Drug Take Back Program

In accordance with the authority in DoD Directive 5124.02, establishes policy and assigns responsibilities for developing, publishing, and implementing procedural guidance for a Drug Take Back Program throughout the Military Health System, in accordance with Parts 1300-1321 of Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, also known and referred to in this ...

  • Identification #: DoD Instruction Number 6025.25
  • Type: Instructions
Last Updated: July 24, 2023
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