Last year, Walgreens began an initiative to bring safe medication disposal units to their stores to combat improper disposals as well as abusing drugs that were no longer needed. Their success has been incredible and inspiring to many pharmacies across the US.
Why Should We?
It’s proven that many people are now abusing drugs that they no longer need, simply because they have leftover medication and no safe way to dispose of medicines. Many don’t want to simply toss their medicines into the trash and wind up in landfills, being absorbed into the soil. At the same time, many don’t want to flush their medicines and add them to the water supply either. Since many of us are not discussing the possibility of leftover meds, people feel obligated to take them anyway, causing countless health issues and increasing the risk of addiction.
How Can We Implement a Disposal Program?
You can do it simply by having staff accept medications, however, that puts your pharmacy at risk for experiencing theft of medicines that should be returned. The ideal method is to look for a company that provides the kiosks and picks up the medicines at regular intervals. This keeps you and your staff from accusations of theft and allows someone else to take care of the “dirty work.” There are many companies across the country that are working with clinics, pharmacies, and law enforcement, particularly for illegal drug disposal kiosks.
You can also check in with your local DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) to find out when their next Take-Back event is. They routinely host them and directing your patients, or hosting your own collection kiosk and delivering them, is a fantastic way to dispose of the medicines. The Take Back events do not take any illegal substances.
Is There Anything We Can’t Take?
It’s important to note that many programs do not accept needles or lancets often associated with certain medications. Many patients assume that they can bring them with the associated medicine. It’s important to teach them safe disposal of sharp objects, such as:
- If possible, destroy the sharp objects to make them unfit for reuse.
- Place used lancets, needles and sharps in a thick, puncture-proof, leak-proof container. Make sure that you can’t see through this container and that it can be tightly sealed.
- Keep the container out of reach of children and animals.
- Before throwing away the sharps container, seal it with heavy-duty tape, and label the container “DO NOT RECYCLE.”
As leaders in our community, it’s vital that we stay on top of ways to protect and help our patients to the best of our abilities. Through education and support in proper disposal, pharmacists can do our jobs well!