BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health has introduced free prescription medication mail-back envelopes as a safe, simple and secure way to dispose of unwanted and unused medications. Up to eight ounces of medications – either in their original containers, or in a sealed bag – can be put in each pre-addressed, 8×11 inch envelope, which is then mailed off to be destroyed.

Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine said the mail-back program builds on the success the state has had in reclaiming prescription medication through Prescription Drug Take Back Days and drug disposal kiosks located around Vermont. “We know that many people who misused prescription pain relievers first got them from a friend’s or relative’s medicine cabinet. One of the key prevention steps everyone can take is to rid our homes of all unneeded medications – what we call Vermont’s Most Dangerous Leftovers.”

Vermonters turned in nearly 6,000 pounds of medications at Take Back Day earlier this year, which included medications collected through the Lamoille County Sheriff Drug Disposal Pilot Project. More than 600 pounds of drugs were also collected in the past five months from 21 state-supported drug disposal kiosks located at pharmacies and hospitals. Dr. Levine said the mail-back program is important because, while not everyone has the time to get to a drop off location, almost everyone has medications they no longer need. “This program offers people an easy way to safely dispose of medications and help to prevent drug misuse.”

Unused, expired, or unwanted medications are placed in the pre-paid envelope, sealed, and mailed through the United States Postal Service. The envelopes should be brought to a post office, handed to your mail carrier or dropped in a USPS mailbox. The envelopes are then delivered to Stericycle, Inc. for accountable, standardized and secure destruction of the pharmaceutical waste.

The medication mail-back envelopes are available at town offices, health centers, libraries, senior centers, veterinarian offices, and other locations in communities across the state. Envelopes can also be ordered online from the Health Department, at healthvermont.gov/free-prescription-medication-mail-back-envelopes

Visit healthvermont.gov to learn more about the program, including what can – and cannot – be mailed, and to find a permanent drug disposal site near you.