Magazine article Drug Topics

Help with Safe Disposal of Rx Drugs

Magazine article Drug Topics

Help with Safe Disposal of Rx Drugs

Article excerpt


The United States is the No. 1 consumer of prescription medication in the world. According to a report from the CDC's National Center for Health Statisticst, it is estimated that almost half of all Americans are now taking at least one prescription medication. More important, the United States accounts for 4.6% of the world's population, yet is responsible for 80% of the world's opiate consumption. Overprescribing of prescription pain drugs has led to a prescription drug-abuse epidemic in America.

In one attempt to curtail this epidemic, the Dmg Enforcement Administration (DEA) sponsored this year's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 26. Pharmacists and pharmacies helped to promote the disposal of unused medications and the safe storage of medications to prevent misuse and abuse.

Unfortunately, many medications stay in medicine cabinets to which teenagers have easy access. The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found that approximately 70% of people who abused prescription pain relievers acquired them from friends or relatives, while about 5% purchased them from a drug dealer or from the internet.1

Young people are extremely susceptible to influence by their peers. Given the opportunity, teens will experiment with readily available medications from their parents' medicine cabinets. According to the National Coalition Against Prescription Dmg Abuse, prescription drugs are most commonly abused by 12- to 17-year-olds.

Currently, only 3% of households lock up and secure their medications. Along with other organizations, the CDC is promoting an initiative known as "Up and Away and Out of Sight."

Easy access to prescription drugs also provides opportunities for criminal behavior. The street value of oxycodone is as high as $1 per milligram. Yes, an 80-mg pill can be sold for $80. The going rate for one Vicodin tablet is $10. Young people also turn to heroin, which is much less expensive and perhaps may be more accessible than controlled substances. The country's current epidemic of heroin use is the most extensive seen in 15 years and hits families across all social and economic strata.

Our responsibility

Do we as pharmacists have a corresponding responsibility to ensure the safety of our patients and their families? Yes, we do. Every time we consult a patient about a prescription, we need to address the safety of its use, not only for the patient, but for the family as well. …

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