Two-Thirds of Americans Improperly Dispose of Medication

Last updated on January 24, 2019

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

The number of respondents failing to comply with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) preferred disposal methods was highest among adults age 18-34, with a total of 93 respondents and 29 respondents who neglected to dispose of the medication altogether, more than all other age groups combined.

More than 70 percent of people who abused or misused prescription painkillers got them from a friend or relative – whether free, or by purchasing or stealing them, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports. That’s why proper disposal of prescription medication has been identified by the White House and the National Governor’s Association as one of the key strategies for combating prescription drug abuse.

Properly disposing of unused medications is a vital strategy for preventing prescription drug abuse and keeping the water supply safe. Although some federal government agencies suggest mixing unused medications with kitty litter or coffee grounds before tossing them into the trash, the safest way to dispose of medications is by placing them in an approved collection receptacle at their pharmacy or taking advantage of mailback solutions. Consumers are decreasing the chance that someone else will abuse drugs by using these methods.

Sharps Compliance offers two solutions for consumers to dispose of unused medication. MedSafe collection receptacles and TakeAway Medication Recovery System envelopes provide for the safe collection, return transportation, and proper destruction of controlled (Schedules II-V) and non-controlled patient-dispensed medications.

MedSafe is intended for use in long-term care facilities, law enforcement, narcotic treatment programs, retail pharmacies, and hospitals and clinics with onsite pharmacies. Since the release of the updated DEA disposal regulations in 2014, hundreds of these facilities have installed MedSafe.

The TakeAway envelopes are provided to consumers by long-term care, hospice, pharmacies, and other organizations. The consumer simply fills, seals, and mails the envelopes for proper, DEA-compliant destruction.