Community Pharmacies Launch Initiative for Safe Disposal of Unused Patient Medications
New website helps patients find participating pharmacies
Nearly 800 community pharmacies in 40 states are making it easy for consumers to safely dispose of unused patient medications at their local pharmacy, the National Community Pharmacists Assn. (NCPA) and Sharps Compliance, Inc., announced.
A new website, www.disposemymeds.org, allows consumers to search for a participating pharmacy disposal program by city, state or zip code. Some exclusions apply. NCPA is encouraging other community pharmacies to voluntarily sign up for the program in coming weeks and months as part of an ongoing effort.
The pharmacies are kicking off the “Dispose My Meds” campaign in conjunction with the 40th annual Earth Week (April 17 to 24). At participating pharmacies, consumers may be able to dispose of unused medications with postage-paid envelopes or participate in onsite programs where pharmaceuticals are collected and disposed of properly.
It is estimated that more than four billion prescriptions are written annually in the U.S. and up to 40% of drugs dispensed outside of hospitals aren’t taken, generating some 200 million pounds of unused pharmaceuticals each year. Unused patient medications are a contributor to accidental poisonings, which have involved an 80% increase in U.S. deaths from accidental overdose of narcotics in a recent six-year period. Studies have found waste pharmaceuticals in the drinking water of more than 50 million Americans, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now studying these and other contaminants to determine whether regulations are needed.
“Safe and practical disposal programs make a real difference in addressing this growing public health concern," said Joseph H. Harmison, PD, NCPA president and pharmacy owner in Arlington, Texas. “I commend these pharmacies for stepping up for the good of their communities and their patients. And, hopefully, consumers will gain a greater appreciation of their local community pharmacy. I also appreciate the support our allies and sponsors have shown for this effort.”
The Dispose My Meds effort builds on the success of the work of the Iowa Pharmacy Assn. to enroll 300-plus pharmacies in the state in a drug disposal program launched in November 2009. Many pharmacies are using the products of TakeAway Environmental Return System, via a recent partnership between NCPA and Sharps Compliance, Inc.
“We are proud to work with NCPA and its membership to more efficiently and effectively address the problem pharmacists, patients and communities face with unused patient medication,” said Claude A. Dance, Sharps Compliance, Inc., senior vice president, sales & marketing. “It also gives patients and pharmacists’ proactive adherence and counseling opportunities to ensure patients are taking the meds as prescribed by their physician as well as a way to safely discard their unused medications and keep our communities safer.”