Disposal of Medicines

Prescription drug disposal is an idea that has come into question a great deal recently. Traditionally, people were told to dispose of their unwanted, unneeded, or expired medicines by flushing them down the toilet or tossing them in the trash. Not much thought was given to this method, until traces of pharmaceuticals were discovered in rivers and other bodies of water during the latest tests. If drugs are found in these bodies of water, then that could mean that our drinking water is contaminated with traces of antidepressants, antibiotics, and other medicines.

Prescription and nonprescription drugs that are not properly disposed of easily make their way into our water supply. Pills that are flushed down the toilet or liquid medicines that are dumped down the drain can kill helpful bacteria that live in septic tanks. These drugs also can pass through sewage treatment facilities without any chemical change, and show up in clean water supplies. If they are thrown out with the trash, drugs can make their way into the groundwater.

Progress is being made for safe drug disposal through pharmacies around the state. Recently, three pharmacies in McLean County have joined in on the prescription drug disposal program. And now, the Bloomington and Normal police departments are accepting drop-offs of all medicine, including controlled substances/narcotics (strong painkillers like morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone) and other prescriptions. Controlled substances, needles*, syringes*, and thermometers will not be accepted at the six McLean county pharmacies listed below. Bring those exclusively to the police departments or to the ISU Student Services Building.

Patients can bring their drugs to the locations during normal business hours, and are asked to black out their name, but leave the name of the drug visible. Medications are incinerated as part of the ecological and safe disposal protocol. The incinerated medications can create energy to power homes and businesses.

The following McLean County locations are accepting prescription drugs for proper disposal:

  • Eastland Pharmacy in OSF Eastland Medical Plaza I, 1505 Eastland Dr, Bloomington, 309-664-0505, Monday-Friday 8:00am-6:00pm, Saturday 8:00am-12:00pm
  • Atrium Pharmacy at Advocate-BroMenn Medical Center, 1304 Franklin Ave, Normal, 309-268-5783, Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:00pm
  • Chenoa Pharmacy, 209 S Green St, Chenoa, 815-945-4211, Monday-Friday 9:00am-6:00pm, Saturday 9:00am-12:00pm

Drop-off Locations for Controlled Substances/Narcotics and other Prescriptions:

  • Bloomington Police Department, 305 S. East St, Bloomington, 309-434-2700, M-F 9:00am-11:00pm
  • Normal Police Department, 100 E. Phoenix Ave, Normal, 309-454-9535, anytime
  • Illinois State University Student Services Building, 201 N. University St, Normal, 309-438-8713, M-S 6:00am-11:00pm
  • Illinois Wesleyan University Security Building, 110 E. Graham, Bloomington, 309-556-1111, Anytime

*Needles and sharps can be disposed of with regular household garbage if proper precautions are taken.  Needles and sharps should be placed in a puncture proof container.  Tape the cap to the container with duct tape before disposal.

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