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Remind Your Patients About Safe Prescription Drug Disposal Options

Posted March 28, 2019

When you talk to your patients about how to take prescribed medications, do you also ask if they know what to do with unused medications when no longer needed?

As noted on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) website, “Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet.”1

To help remedy this potential public health and safety crisis, the DEA sponsors National Prescription Drug Take Back Day twice each year. This initiative provides a safe and convenient way for the general public to dispose of unwanted/unused and outdated/expired prescription medications.

  • At the last event in October 2018, more than 36,895 pounds of drugs were collected via 188 sites across Illinois.2
  • The next National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 27, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Your patients may use the DEA’s search tool to find a nearby collection site. 

Year-round prescription drug disposal options are available, too. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois has joined Walgreens to expand the availability of safe medication disposal kiosks in select Walgreens locations. The kiosks are available during regular pharmacy hours at Walgreens pharmacies. For a full list of Walgreens safe medication disposal kiosk locations, see the Walgreens store locator.

Safe medication disposal is a preventive measure to help ensure medications are not accidently used, or intentionally misused, by someone other than the patient for whom the medication was originally prescribed. Thank you for reminding your patients to clean out their medicine cabinets.

1 DEA website. Headquarters News, May 7, 2018. DEA brings in record number of unused pills during 15th annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Accessed March 12, 2019, at https://www.dea.gov/divisions/hq/2018/hq050718.shtml.

2 DEA website. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. October 2018 16th National Take Back Day Collection Results. Accessed March 12, 2019, at https://takebackday.dea.gov/sites/default/files/NTBI%20XVI%20Totals.pdf.

The above material is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician or other health care provider. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the appropriate course of treatment. References to third party sources or organizations are not a representation, warranty or endorsement of such organizations. Any questions regarding those organizations should be addressed to them directly. The fact that a service or treatment is described in this material is not a guarantee that the service or treatment is a covered benefit and members should refer to their certificate of coverage for more details, including benefits, limitations and exclusions. Regardless of benefits, the final decision about any service or treatment is between the member and their health care provider.