Two-thirds of Americans don’t know what to do with unused prescription drugs according to a nationwide survey of 1,000 adults conducted for Sharps Compliance. The findings showed that 2 out of 3 people either toss their medications into the garbage or flush them down the toilet, potentially threatening the safety of others and the environment
Medication disposal can be confusing. The practice is regulated by many government agencies, and there are a number of rules to follow to ensure you are correctly disposing of any unused medications. Sharps Compliance’s MedSafe is a collection receptacle for ultimate user medication disposal. This blog will clarify the rules and regulations of disposing of medications in MedSafe and other similar containers.
Federal Hazardous Waste regulations for generators of hazardous waste are found in 40 CFR §262.11. These regulations require that any generator who produces or generates a waste must determine if that waste is hazardous. If the waste is determined to be hazardous, the waste must be managed according the regulations in 40 CFR 262 (et al).
Prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic in the United States. Opioids, depressants and stimulants are the most abused medications. According to the Los Angeles Times, the leading cause of death from unintentional injuries in the U.S. is drug-related poisonings, which has surpassed automobile accidents. Between 1999 and 2006, deaths from drug poisoning have almost doubled. The first step towards preventing drug abuse is proper medication disposal.
Nurses practicing in senior care have very busy work schedules. From caring for patients to distributing medications to updating records, their days can become overwhelming. One of the more time-consuming tasks is the disposal of unused medication.
When a resident’s medication is permanently discontinued, it must be properly disposed. Prior to updates to the 2014 Drug Enforcement Agency’s regulations which implemented the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, few safe, efficient and environmentally-preferred options were available to communities for controlled drug disposal. Typically, the Director of Nursing and another nurse would itemize the drugs to be destroyed and then undertake the time-consuming task of emptying them out of their containers or blister packs. Removing individual pills from blister packs can not only be time-consuming (and therefore, costly) but also painful and difficult. Once removed, the drugs were typically placed into the toilet or mixed with an undesirable substance, such as kitty litter or dissolved in a chemical prior to putting them into the trash. After all of the medication was removed and destroyed, the residents’ identifying information on the packaging had to be concealed and disposed of safely to prevent disclosure of protected health information.
In our last blog post, we explored how prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic in the United States. This week we will discuss how to prevent prescription drug abuse and what to do with any unused medications.
Many opioid abusers get the prescription drugs from friends or relatives for free, according to a study by JAMA Internal Medicine. Other sources include getting a prescription from one or more doctors, stealing or buying prescription drugs from friends or family and buying prescription drugs from drug dealers.1