Script Your Future: How to Dispose of Unused Medications at Home

The dispensing of prescription medications, especially controlled substances such as narcotics, is tightly regulated by pharmacies and other government agencies. With that being said, there is a lack of oversight on how to discard these medications properly if they go unused. A national survey of United States adults found that nearly half of all patients with pain medication had or expected to have “leftover” medication (1). The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 68% of those who use pain medications non-medically got them from friends or family members (2). It is clear to see how keeping unused narcotics increases the chances of unwanted drug diversion.

Fortunately, there are several solutions to combat this problem. Many retail pharmacies now sell drug disposal systems commonly in the form of pouches or bottles. These systems are safe, effective, and convenient ways for patients to get rid of any unused or unwanted prescription medications without flushing them down the drain. Activated charcoal within the pouches or bottles renders the medications inactive when water is added to the container along with the medications. The containers should then be appropriately sealed, and can be thrown away with household trash. Another upside to these disposal systems is their usefulness for various drug formulations (tablets, capsules, liquids, and patches). Below are samples of at-home drug disposal systems that are easily used. Many drug manufacturers will donate these drug disposal systems at no cost, so ask your local pharmacy about them today!

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Delterra Pouches

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Element Drug Disposal System

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Can dissolve 45 pills or 6 oz. liquid or 6 patches

Contributed by: Rebekah Dunham, Class of 2017

References:

  1. Kennedy-Hendricks A, Gielen A, McDonald E, McGinty EE, Shields W, Barry CL. Medication Sharing, Storage, and Disposal Practices for Opioid Medications Among US Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(7):1027-1029. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2543
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2013). National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville

UCSOP Launches Generation Rx with Kanawha & Boone County Schools

DurinAPhM_Twitter_Icong October 2016, American Pharmacist Month, over 100 students from the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy will be educating students throughout Kanawha and Boone counties on the dangers of prescription drug misuse. Pharmacy students will reach over 500 children by visiting over fifteen 5th grade classrooms at six Kanawha County elementary schools and three Boone County elementary schools throughout the month to deliver an intervention and prevention program called Generation Rx. This evidence based program was developed in collaboration with the Cardinal Health Foundation, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), and The Ohio State University School of Pharmacy. The Generation Rx curriculum is designed to increase public awareness of prescription medication abuse and medication safety http://www.generationrx.org.

“The program focuses on positive-decision making and social norming as tools for combatting prescription drug abuse,” said Andrew VanDuesen, Class of 2018 genrxand president of the UCSOP APhA student chapter (ASP)

West Virginia middle and high school students are making poor decisions in regard to substance abuse and particularly with prescription medications. According to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 16.% of high school students have taken a prescription drug—such as oxycontin, vicodin, adderall, ritalin, or xanax—without a prescription one or more time sin their life. Early education is key to prevention.

“As a prevention and outreach program, Generation Rx, is designed to help students of all ages, identify and address prescription drug misuse in their homes and communities,” said Dr. Susan Gardner, assistant dean for professional and student affairs. 

In addition, to the elementary school outreach, pharmacy students will educate undergraduate students at the University of Charleston by visiting every UNIV 101 classroom on October 10, 2016 to deliver the college-level Generation Rx curriculum to freshmen. 

For more information contact: Dr. Susan Gardner, susangardner@ucwv.edu.