Drug take-back initiative collects tons of waste

May 8, 2012

The Drug Enforcement Administration?s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day produced a record-breaking amount of unused medications.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day produced a record-breaking amount of unused medications.

On April 28, the DEA’s partners and law enforcement agencies collected 552,161 pounds (276 tons) of unwanted or expired medications at more than 5,600 take-back sites nationwide. This Take-Back Day and the DEA’s 3 other Take-Back events have added up to more than 1.5 million pounds of medication that have been removed from circulation.

“While a uniform system for prescription drug disposal is being finalized, we will continue to sponsor these important take-back opportunities as a service to our communities,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is important, according to the DEA, because a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, often from medicine cabinets at home.

The large volume of excess prescription medications at home can also be attributed in part to mail-order waste, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). “It is essential that health plan sponsors preserve the patients’ freedom to choose a pharmacy provider. The face-to-face, patient-pharmacist interaction in a community pharmacy improves health outcomes and prevents the waste identified in this Waste Not, Want Not news report that is associated with ‘auto-shipping’ mail order programs,” said Lonny Wilson, DPh, NCPA President and Executive Director, CEO of Pharmacy Providers of Oklahoma, Inc.

In addition, community pharmacies can help patients discard their unused or expired medication in an environmentally responsible way through programs such as NCPA’s “Dispose My Meds” initiative, according to Wilson.