Medicine Take-Back Security

Take-back programs use secure equipment and procedures to ensure there is
no theft or diversion of collected medicines.

Ongoing medicine take-backs typically have a secure collection bin that is bolted to the floor or wall.  Such bins are specially designed to prevent any unauthorized access to deposited medicines.  To protect patient privacy, customers can use a marker to black out sensitive information on containers before depositing prescription medicines.  When unwanted medicines are deposited into the bin they drop into a plastic bucket or cardboard box.  For security reasons, the metal collection bins are locked with two padlocks, and the keys are held by two different staff.


Since the first program started in Washington in 2003, no theft or diversion of any returned medicines has occurred in any authorized medicine take-back program.

When the boxes or buckets get full, assigned staff follows strict procedures to remove the full bucket or box and replace it with an empty one.  To access the full bucket or box, two staff use separate keys to unlock the two padlocks on the front of the collection bin.  The two staff close up the full container, and then add special seals to prevent tampering.  A tracking number is assigned to the sealed container and forms are used to document its transportation to a locked storage area.

Collections sites located at law enforcement locations often manage returned medicines with the same secure procedures used for confiscated illegal drugs.  These strict procedures ensure that collected medicines are not diverted and that patient information on packaging is protected.