The medications must be in their original, labeled containers, he said.
Unfortunately, he said, the program cannot accept controlled substances -- such as narcotic painkillers -- because of federal Drug Enforcement Administration regulations.
That's because law enforcement officers must be present when people return controlled substances, said DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno.
Under a law passed last year, the DEA is working to develop new rules that will let people conveniently drop off controlled substances in their communities, Carreno said.
"We hope in the next six to eight months to have our regulations ready for public review," she said.
The regulatory process can take several years, she said.
For now, people who want to toss controlled substances can go to community take-back events sponsored by police agencies.
One is set to take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Huntington, sponsored by the Huntington Police Department and the Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership. The event will take place at the United Way of the River Cities office, 820 Madison Ave.
Even though the Drug Emporium program doesn't take controlled substances, it's still important for people to safely throw out unused pharmaceuticals, said Mike O'Neil, a University of Charleston pharmacy professor and chairman of the state Controlled Substance Advisory Board.
Half of prescription drugs that are abused and diverted are not controlled substances, O'Neil said. Kids often get their hands on their parents' pill bottles, and the medications inside can have dangerous effects.
"A lot of people are experimenting with whatever's in the cabinet," he said.
Reach Alison Knezevich at alis...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.