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Posted on: July 25, 2019

Red Med Box

Red Med Graphic

The Problem

Certain medications are considered “controlled substances,” which means that they have a high potential for abuse and addiction. According to current regulations, controlled substances can only be handled by 1) the patient who was prescribed the medication and 2) law enforcement professionals. Unlike other medications, unused or expired controlled substances must be disposed of in a way that complies with rules and safety guidelines established by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Flushing old medications down a toilet or sink is also not a safe alternative. Medications can contaminate local water sources. So how can we safely and securely dispose of unwanted or expired medications?

The Solution

Red Med Box is an easy and secure way to dispose of unused or expired medication. Red Med Boxes are located at area law enforcement buildings throughout Kalamazoo County, which means you can safely dispose of controlled substances. Using a Red Med Box to safely dispose of medication protects the environment from contaminants and our community from medication abuse and addiction.

Using a Red Med Box is free, easy and secure. Collect your unwanted or expired medications. Keep the medication in its original packaging and mark out the patient’s name with a black marker. Do NOT mark out the name of the medication. Then, simply drop the medication in the secure drop box – just like a mail collection box. No need to check in with anyone or fill out any forms. A Red Med Box is located in the Portage Department of Public Safety lobby at 7810 Shaver Road and is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Red Med Boxes are emptied on a daily basis by law enforcement officers and the medication is securely stored then destroyed in an incinerator. In 2018, the Portage Department of Public Safety incinerated more than 4,000 pounds of unwanted medications! 

It’s a Community Effort

Red Med Box was launched in Kalamazoo County in 2011 as part of a joint effort among Kalamazoo County Household Hazardous Waste, the Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force, local law enforcement agencies, Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, as well as local hospitals and healthcare providers.  The program continues to expand – watch for more convenient locations across the county. 

Similar medication disposal boxes are located in the pharmacies at Walgreens (7920 Shaver Road) and Meijer (8850 Shaver Road).  Pharmacists at these locations work with vendors that comply with rules and safety guidelines established by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

For more information, please visit or call the Portage Community Policing Officer at 324-9255.

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