Frequently Asked Questions

Consumers

  • Where does HPSA operate?
    HPSA currently operates in four provinces: British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
  • What can be returned?
    The following products can be returned in the respective provinces:
    • Prescription drugs (BC, MB, ON, NB, PEI)
    • Over-the-counter medications (BC, MB, ON, NB, PEI)
    • Natural health products (BC, MB, ON, NB, PEI)
    • Medical Sharps (ON, MB,NB PEI)
    Check here to find a participating pharmacy near you.
  • Do I have to pay?
    No. Return programs operated by HPSA are free of charge for the consumer.

Medications

  • What medications can I return?
    Any of the following items that are unwanted:
    • Prescription drugs
    • Over-the-counter medications
    • Natural health products
    In British Columbia and Ontario, unused, expired or unwanted medications for your companion animal are also accepted. Please note that only prescribed medical cannabis are accepted.
  • Where can I return medications or natural health products?
    You can return your items to any participating pharmacy. Either call your local pharmacy to confirm their participation or check here for the nearest participating pharmacy.
  • Should I flush my medications down the toilet?
    No. While this may have been done in the past, this method may have potential harmful effects on the environment. Disposal via the toilet will take your drugs into the local sewage system where treatments plants are not fully designed to deal with the medication. The best method of disposal is to return medications to a participating pharmacy.
  • Should I pour my medications down the sink?
    No. This is no better than flushing them down the toilet because they still end up in the same place. It’s even worse if your home uses a septic system. Drugs can leach into the local water table, eventually coming out somewhere, like a nearby lake or stream, or out onto your own property, where pets, livestock or wildlife could be at risk. The best method of disposal is to return medications to a participating pharmacy.
  • Can I throw my unwanted medications into the trash?

    No. Safety experts strongly discourage throwing them into the trash where children or pets can find them. Your trash will eventually make it to a local landfill, where your medications could still have the potential to leach out. Many municipal or regional districts have local household waste facilities where you can safely drop off your medications for disposal. Check in your region for more information.

  • Could I return my unwanted medications to my doctor?
    Not usually. The pharmacy located near your doctor’s office will probably take medication returns. Either call the pharmacy to confirm or check here to find the nearest participating pharmacy. In some First Nations it may be possible to return medications – check with your doctors office.
  • How do I return prescription drugs, over the counter medications or natural health products to the pharmacy?

    Empty all dry medication such as pills and tablets into a bag or container. Remove or black out any personal identification. Keep all liquids, creams and inhalers in their original packaging and remove all personal identification. Return to your local participating pharmacy.

  • What happens to medications that are returned?

    Returned medications are picked up from participating pharmacies and sent to a licensed incineration facility for safe destruction.

Medical Sharps

  • Why is there a medical sharps collection program?

    To ensure the safe disposal. Improper disposal puts garbage and municipal workers, janitors, housekeepers, household members, children and pets at risk of being harmed by needle stick injuries.

  • What medical sharps products can I return?
    The following items used on humans or companion animals are accepted in the medical sharps return programs:
    • Infusion sets,
    • Safety pens,
    • Pen needles,
    • Syringe with needles attached,
    • Lancets,
    • Needles and needle tips,
    • Pre-filled cartridges and pre-filled syringes.
    These items should be used by individuals in their homes to inject medications by piercing the skin. Please note that medical sharps used on companion animals are also accepted.
  • How can I safely store and return medical sharps to the pharmacy?

    Used medical sharps should be collected in a sharp approved container available free of charge from participating pharmacies.

  • What happens to the returned medical sharps?

    Biomedical sharps are treated using a high-pressure steam sterilization process (typically a commercial autoclave). Cytotoxic sharps are treated using high-temperature incineration.