Industry & Communities Meet the Challenge of Safe Prescription Drug Disposal

Americans are taking more and more prescription drugs, both legally and illegally, and communities across the country are struggling to deal with the health, financial, and environmental effects. A particular hot-button issue is the safe disposal of expired and unwanted medication. Currently, stakeholders including pharmaceutical manufacturers, product stewardship organizations, federal, state, and local governments, individual pharmacies, and other healthcare entities are working to develop solutions. Medical waste disposal companies who are also reverse distributors like Sharps Compliance are playing a major role to assist these groups in the proper containment, transport, and destruction of unused pharmaceuticals.

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Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse at Home

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.

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Part 2: Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse

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

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Medication Disposal for Long-Term Care Facilities — Including Controlled Substances

On September 9, 2014, the Department of Justice published the final rules for the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 allowing proper controlled substance disposal. The regulations go into effect October 9, 2014. The amended rules (found here) allow registered collectors, such as closed-door and retail pharmacies to place receptacles in long-term care facilities to collect and dispose of controlled substances (Schedules II-V). Before the rule update, solutions for disposal in long-term care facilities were minimal and often messy and environmentally unsustainable.
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