April 19, 2022

Why Safe Medication Disposal Is Crucial for Patients, Communities, and the Environment

Prescription pain medication can be an important treatment method for many healthcare patients. However, for patients who have leftover pills, as is the case for 6 in 10 adults according to a study, improper management can lead to diversion that might result in abuse or other harm.

Many patients are not fully aware of the important role they can play in preventing prescription drug abuse. According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly half of the 9.3 million people who misused prescription pain relievers in 2020 obtained them from family and friends. Properly disposing of unused or unneeded prescription drugs can help prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.

Healthcare providers and administrators are growing increasingly concerned about the impact of pharmaceutical waste on patients, communities, and the environment. Stericycle’s 2022 Healthcare Workplace Safety Trend Report found that more than half of the healthcare workers surveyed believe that improperly disposed pharmaceutical waste is one of the biggest contributors to the ongoing U.S. opioid epidemic. These problems have only worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the CDC. Furthermore, our report found that 72% of healthcare providers surveyed believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is making pharmaceutical waste management more challenging for caregivers and patients alike.

To help combat opioid abuse, patients should take steps to securely dispose of unused or expired mediations. Many healthcare organizations, public safety offices, and other community organizations provide options for secure, anonymous disposal through drug take back programs. Stericycle offers two solutions, MedDrop™ Medication Collection Kiosks and Seal&Send™ Consumer Medication Mailback Envelopes, to help individuals dispose of prescription medications.

Download our infographic to learn more about the impact that opioid abuse can have on communities and how a comprehensive drug disposal program can help mitigate drug diversion risks. Learn more about how Stericycle’s Pharmaceutical and Controlled Substance Disposal Solutions can help healthcare organizations, patients, and businesses limit access to leftover medication. 

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