medication disposal solutions

Last updated on May 2, 2022

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Americans filled over 3.7 billion prescriptions at retail pharmacy locations in 2018, and that number should rise as our population ages and more people are diagnosed with chronic conditions. Both groups are statistically more likely to take more medications, so the need for safe and convenient disposal options is growing. At Sharps Compliance, we’re meeting that challenge by offering safe medication disposal solutions to ultimate users.

Prescription Medication Usage Is Increasing

  • Among people aged 57 to 85 years, 80% use at least one prescription medication daily, while 50% take more than five medications or supplements each day.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2015-2016, 48.5% of the total population reported taking at least one prescription drug during the previous month.
  • People age 80 and over average 22 prescriptions filled annually.

Medication works best when you take it as prescribed – which many people do not: approximately 50% of patients take only half the prescribed doses. That leaves a lot of leftover drugs in medicine cabinets, kitchen cupboards, and other unsecured household locations.

Access to Prescription Opioids Is Helping Fuel the Opioid Crisis

Unfortunately, many of those “leftovers” can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

  • In 2015, 38% of US adults used an opioid medication.
  • As many as 92% of people don’t finish their painkillers.
  • In 2015, nearly 20% of adults who reported using prescription painkillers in the previous year said they had shared those pills with a friend or family member who needed them.
  • 40.8% of adults who misused prescription opioids in 2015 obtained them for free from friends or family members.
  • In 2017, drug overdoses (including opioid painkillers and illegal drugs) killed over 70,000 Americans.

Prescription opioids, narcotics, and similar medications should never be shared with others. Keep them in locked boxes or cabinet until you finish the prescription or you’re able to safely dispose of the remainder.

Improper Medication Disposal Is Dangerous to Communities & the Environment

Unused/unwanted medications kept in the household can present a poisoning danger to children and pets. However, improperly disposing of the medications may represent a danger to your community and the environment. Here’s why you should avoid these common disposal methods.

Trash disposal:

  • Children or pets may get into the trash and ingest the medication.
  • Unauthorized people may go through the trash looking for drugs.
  • When pharmaceuticals are dumped in landfills, trace amounts may contaminate the water supply.

Flushing pharmaceuticals:

  • Flushing sends the drugs full strength into your community’s wastewater treatment system. The treated water often retains trace amounts of pharmaceutical residue.
  • It’s a danger to wildlife. Pharmaceutical and other chemical residues may cause reproductive changes in fish.

Safe, Convenient Medication Disposal

Sharps Compliance is helping ultimate users safely dispose of unused/unwanted drugs. We offer two safe, convenient medication disposal options: MedSafe drug collection kiosks and TakeAway Medication Recovery Envelopes.

Consider these numbers:

  • ­­­­­3,666,822 TakeAway Medication Envelopes have been distributed to ultimate users for mailback disposal.
  • 452,325 pounds of medication have been collected from ultimate users via TakeAway Medication Envelopes.
  • 3,303 MedSafe collection kiosks have been placed in retail pharmacies and other public places.
  • 29,983 MedSafe inner liners returned for proper destruction
  • 1,330,051 pounds of medication have been placed in MedSafe collection kiosks.

After drugs are collected, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requires that they be treated to render them non-retrievable. Sharps Compliance uses high-temperature incineration that meets all regulatory requirements. This sustainable solution turns potentially dangerous leftover pharmaceuticals into clean energy.

Contact us at 800.772.5657 to learn how we can help you safely dispose of unused/unwanted pharmaceuticals.


Simple and Safe Medication Disposal Solutions from Sharps Compliance Infographic

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<p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 100%;  height: auto;"src=""> Simple and Safe Medication Disposal Solutions from Sharps Compliance
- An infographic by  <a href="">Sharps Compliance, Inc</a></p>

Wanda Voigt holds a BA in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University and a BBA in Business Management from Texas A&M University. In Fall 2021, Wanda will begin her Master Jurisprudence in Health Law and Policy at Texas A&M University. Wanda has over 20 years of clinical practice in both hospital and private practice practicing in various specialties.

As the Director of Regulatory Compliance, Wanda assists Sharps’ customers in evaluating current federal and state-specific medical and pharmaceutical waste regulations, implementing compliant regulated medical and pharmaceutical waste management programs and processes, and developing training programs for both internal and external customers.

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