Deerfield, Ill. Walgreen Co. said Thursday it will begin selling special envelopes to shoppers to help them dispose of medications they no longer need.
Starting Friday, Walgreen customers can buy a special envelope at pharmacies for $2.99, and use it to mail in unused or expired prescription or over-the-counter drugs. The envelopes can be dropped into any U.S. Postal Service mailbox, and the contents will be mailed directly to a medical incinerator facility. They will be received by law enforcement officials, and then burned.
Controlled substances such as morphine will be excluded from the program because they cannot legally be sent through the mail.
The ashes will be used to make building materials and will not go to a landfill, the company said. That would prevent the drugs from entering the water supply.
The incinerator facilities are run by medical waste manager Sharps Compliance Corp. Walgreen said Sharps estimates that more than 200 million pounds of medications are improperly disposed of every year.