In the wake of recent headlines about the rise in prescription drug abuse across the U.S., hospitals and other healthcare institutions have been taking steps to crack down on drug shoppers and improve patient safety by focusing on more effective methods of dispensing controlled substances. Now, some facilities have taken their mission a step further, introducing disposal programs that encourage people to get rid of their unused prescriptions in a safe, secure way.
The prescription drug problem frequently starts in the home, where leftover medications pile up on bathroom shelves and kitchen counters, making them easily accessible to children and guests. It’s estimated that 70 percent of people who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from friends or relatives.
There’s an environmental cost as well. Without designated disposal programs, prescription drugs are often flushed down the toilet or dumped down the sink – putting the water supply at risk and jeopardizing the health of both residents and the environment.
Introducing Convenient Drop-Off Points
To aid in combatting improper prescription drug use and disposal, several healthcare facilities have created programs that provide the public with a convenient way to get rid of leftover medications. Southampton Hospital in New York recently announced their sponsorship of a pharmaceutical collection receptacle at Sag Harbor Pharmacy, where residents can easily drop off unwanted, expired or unused prescriptions.
The owner of Sag Harbor Pharmacy, pharmacist Jeff Yohai, believes the disposal program will be a great benefit to the community, saying, “We need to do our best to keep old prescription medications out of the hands of small children who might accidentally ingest them, and out of the hands of any teens who might seek to use medications for non-medical use.”
In the past few months, counties around the nation have begun implementing programs similar to Sag Harbor’s, creating drop-offs in various locations to make safe disposal of prescription drugs as user-friendly as possible. Many drug disposal units can be found in police stations, where medications can be dropped off anonymously 24/7 at no cost.
CVS Pharmacy has also taken an active role in helping to jumpstart disposal programs. The retailer recently launched a grant initiative that will provide drug collection bins to hundreds of cities. So far, the company has donated 275 of the disposal units to local governments across the U.S.
Addressing Multiple Safety Risks
Not only do drug disposal programs reduce this widespread availability of unnecessary medications to vulnerable children or those who may be struggling with addiction or abuse, but it also protects drinking water from potential contaminants.