Commentary on "Drug take-back programs are safe, clean"


As submitted to USA Today
By Robert J. Greenwood, RPh

We at the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) agree with the concerns addressed in Kirsti Marohn's recent article, "Drug take-back programs are safe, clean".

We highly encourage patients to talk with their community pharmacists about the best way to store and dispose of medicine no longer needed. Patients seeking a local disposal option should consider the 1,200 community pharmacies nationwide that are participating in the voluntary Dispose My Meds program (www.disposemymeds.org), which offers take back programs for consumers to properly dispose of unused and unwanted drugs not recommended for flushing. Community pharmacists are the health care professionals advising patients before medications are used and stand ready to review and assist patients if their medications go unused or expired.

Previous surveys have found that nearly 3 out of 4 patients said that they would be willing or very willing to return medications to a pharmacy and 84 percent indicate a local pharmacy would be the most convenient location to dispose of unused or expired medicines (compared to going to a special collection event or their local police dept). We commend the local law enforcement and government agencies for their drug disposal efforts, but believe consumers also need programs like Dispose My Meds to allow community pharmacists to promote proper adherence to the patient's prescription medication regimen.

Patients can also talk to their community pharmacist about safe ways to store their medication at home. A new campaign, Safeguard My Meds (www.safeguardmymeds.org) offers tools and resources to help them keep their medicines safe. For instance, it recommends that patients should maintain a list of medicines in their home, keep them in a locked storage container in a cool, dry place, keep them out of the reach of children and pets, and never share their medicines with others.

Your community pharmacist looks forward to talking to you soon.

Robert J. Greenwood, RPh
NCPA President
Waterloo, Iowa pharmacy owner

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