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USA: Drop boxes are making it easier to get rid of old medication

What do you do with bottles of expired or no-longer-needed medications? That’s a problem, according to Elizabeth Skoy, an associate professor at North Dakota State University’s School of Pharmacy in the USA.

“In recent years, there’s been a spotlight on medication disposal, because of the opioid epidemic,” she said. “It’s important to get rid of any medication when you are done with it to prevent misuse or having it fall into the hands of others.” Plus, having old medications in the home increases the chances of accidental poisoning of children or pets.

But while many of us might be aware that we shouldn’t toss pill bottles in the trash or flush medication down the toilet, we’re less knowledgeable about safe alternatives. And there haven’t been many options beyond the USA's Drug Enforcement Administration’s semiannual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

In the past decade, however, pharmacies, hospitals and law enforcement agencies have been stepping up to help clean out medicine cabinets year-round. One of the most accessible solutions is medication collection bins, which are being added to convenient locations such as retail stores, health clinics, police stations and other easily accessed sites.

“We decided in 2016 we wanted to be part of the solution,” said Kurt Henke, ambulatory pharmacy manager for Colorado’s Denver Health hospital system, which has collection bins in each of its eight pharmacies. Drugstore chain CVS began putting units in police departments in 2014 and adding them to its more than 9,000 retail locations in 2017; so far it has deployed more than 4,000 of the bins. States are taking the initiative, as well. In North Dakota the state’s Board of Pharmacy provides MedSafe, a take-back box, to any pharmacy that wants one; at this point, about 120 are participating.

The DEA maintains a searchable database of controlled-substance collection sites. Simply type in your Zip code or city to find the nearest one.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Washington Post, 15 March 2022



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