Government Agency Unveils Study Around Unused Drug Disposal

By: Stericycle

As of April 2019, 70% of the U.S. population now lives less than five miles from a permanent drug disposal collection site – however, most people are unaware of recommended disposal methods available within their communities or have not disposed of unused prescription opioids in the past.

In response to additional provisions in legislation from 2018, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was required to study proper disposal of unused pharmaceuticals, particularly in relation to how patients dispose of unused prescription medications.

In the study, the GAO found that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all recommend that patients dispose of unused prescription opioids by bringing them to DEA-registered collection sites or a DEA take back event. You can easily find registered controlled substance public disposal locations using this resource from the U.S. Diversion Control Division.

The GAO also recommended mail back methods as another solution for managing unwanted prescription drugs.  For example, pre-paid medication envelopes can be distributed to patients and then discreetly shipped to an incineration location for proper disposal. Many of the solutions recommended in the study are services Stericycle Environmental Solutions already provides; our award-winning consumer drug take back solutions includes medication collection kiosks and Seal&Send medication mail back envelopes.

If your local pharmacy, hospital or law enforcement office doesn’t have a year-round drug take back option available, mark the next Take Back Day (Oct. 26, 2019) on your calendar. You can read the full GAO study here.