Posts Tagged prescription drug disposal
The world has seen an increase in the number of drug-related deaths in recent months. Most of the drug users have opted to buy their substances of choice from clubs, parties and music festivals because they want to achieve that certain kind of high that they could not normally get. Their reasons may vary but the result is the same: drug addiction that may lead to death.
Some of these commonly abused drugs are medically prescribed to treat chronic pain. However, the effect of masking out the pain is the release of dopamine, the “happy center” of the brain. Taking more than the necessary amount may lead to hallucinations, psychological disturbance, and other unfavorable symptoms.
Some individuals may have access to these drugs from patients who don’t use these substances anymore. However, not being able to properly dispose these drugs may lead to these substances falling into the wrong hands and getting hooked on it.
There is a need for people to be aware that after they have been treated from their health issues, leftover medicines should not be kept inside the house, most especially within reach of young children. Proper disposal prevents accidental exposure and intentional misuse of these drugs.
The Drug Enforcement Agency has carefully classified controlled substances into Schedules I to IV. Every drug that falls under these categories has very strict implementation of the regulation of these drugs. In the same way, the agency has also amended the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 (“Disposal Act”) to ensure that all unused drugs should be discarded safely.
What is the Disposal Act?
The Disposal Act amended the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to give the DEA authority to promulgate new regulations, within the framework of the CSA that will allow ultimate users to deliver unused or leftover controlled substances to appropriate entities for disposal in a safe and effective manner consistent with effective controls against diversion. The main goal of the Disposal Act is to encourage the community to develop a variety of methods of collection and disposal in a secure, convenient, and responsible manner.
Most Commonly Abused Drugs at Home
Some people turn to prescription drugs for several reasons, some of which include the following:
- To relax and be free from tension
- To reduce appetite
- To achieve an unusual high
- To respond to peer pressure
- To escape from personal problems
Worse, some individuals think that using prescription drugs is legal and safe, because these are prescribed by physicians.
Several cases involving individuals rushed to the emergency department were related to misuse of prescription drugs intended for their family members. Some of these drugs include:
- Pain relievers (Oxycontin)
- Tranquilizers (Valium, Zolpidem)
- Stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin)
- Codeine Syrup/Promethazine
All of these drugs may produce untoward effects if ingested in large amounts and may eventually lead to death.
Options on How to Dispose Unused Medicines
Any unused or expired medicines should be immediately taken out from homes to prevent possible misuse and ingestion of children and other individuals. Some may become too curious about the effects of certain drugs most especially if these are drugs that are being mentioned online and in news articles. In short, curiosity may result to potential drug addiction.
Take Back Initiative
To address the issue on exposure to leftover medication, the government has created a Take Back program to safely dispose most types of unneeded or unused medicines. Collection sites are put up by the DEA periodically so that communities may be able to safely dispose their unused prescription drugs.
These take back programs can also be hosted by the local law enforcement agencies in different communities. At the same time, the people in the community may be able to contact their local waste management authorities to learn more about the proper disposal options and guidelines for their areas.
Drug Collection Stations
Another option is to dispose these unused medicines via DEA-authorized collectors that can safely and securely collect these medicines containing controlled substances. DEA-authorized collectors include hospitals, clinics or retail pharmacies. Some authorized collection sites offer mail-back programs wherein they provide drop boxes to help consumers in safely disposing their unused medicines.
For Communities with no Take Back Program
Not all communities may have the Take Back program or DEA-authorized collection stations, but that does not mean that unused medicines should be kept.
Throw them in the trash
The other option of disposing these medicines is by throwing them in the trash. Disposing them should not be done just by throwing them away in their containers. A more effective disposal method is for the capsules or tablets to be mixed with undesirable substances to prevent ingestion. This way, people will be instantly discouraged to take the drugs. The mixture should be placed inside a sealed plastic container. Ensure that all personal information on the prescription label on the empty medicine bottle has been taken out when disposing it.
Flush them in the toilet
Any unused medicines should be properly disposed to prevent from being misused by other individuals. If disposal options such as a take back program or a DEA-authorized collector sites are not readily available, it is best recommended that these medicines be flushed down the sink or toilet as soon as they are no longer needed.
Here is the list of medicines recommended for immediate disposal by flushing:
|Actiq||oral transmucosal lozenge||Fentanyl Citrate|
|Avinza||extended release capsule||Morphine Sulfate|
|Belbuca||buccal soluble film||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride|
|Buprenorphine Hydrochloride||sublingual tablet||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride|
|Butrans||transdermal patch system||Buprenorphine|
|Daytrana||transdermal patch system||Methylphenidate|
|Diladulid||oral liquid||Hydrpmorphone Hydrochloride|
|Dolophine Hydrochloride||tablets||Methadone Hydrochloride|
|Duragesic||extended release patch||Fentanyl|
|Embeda||extended release capsule||Morphine Sulfate|
|Exalgo||extended release tablets||Hydrpmorphone Hydrochloride|
|Fentora||buccal tablets||Fentanyl Citrate|
|Hysingla ER||extended release tablets||Hydrocodone Bitartrate|
|Kadian||extended release capsule||Morphine Sulfate|
|Methadone Hydrochloride||oral solution||Methadone Hydrochloride|
|Morphabond||extended release tablets||Morphine Sulfate|
|Morphine Sulfate||tablets||Morphine Sulfate|
|MS Contin||extended release tablets||Morphine Sulfate|
|Nucynta ER||extended release tablets||Tapentadol|
|Onsolis||buccal soluble film||Fentanyl Citrate|
|Opana ER||extended release tablets||Oxymorhone Hydrochloride|
|Oxecta||immediate release tablets||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Oxycodone Hydrochloride||capsules||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Oxycodone Hydrochloride||oral solution||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Oxycontin||extended release tablets||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Percocet||tablets||Acetaminophen, Oxycodone Hydrocloride|
|Percodan||tablets||Aspirin, Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Suboxone||sublingual film||Buprenorphone Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride|
|Targiniq||extended release tablets||Oxycodone Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride|
|Xartemis XR||tablets||Oxycodone Hydrochloride|
|Xtampza ER||extended release capsule||Oxycodone|
|Xyrem||oral solution||Sodium Oxybate|
|Zohydro ER||extended release capsule||Hydrocodone Bitartrate|
|Zubsolv||sublingual tablets||Buprenorphine Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride|
*Updated as of April 2016
There is a need for immediate disposal of these medicines to ensure that no one will be able to use them or accidentally ingest them due to their health risks.
In addition, It is unwise to turn over any unused medicine to another person whom you think is having the same kind of medical condition as you had. It is best to seek professional help rather than to give out any of your unused medicines.
Prior to receiving any kind of medication such as the ones mentioned above, patients should be advised on how to properly dispose unused medications in the event that they have purchased more than they have needed in the process. The doctors should be able to explain information about the expected side effects of the medication, proper handling and disposal instructions and the medication guide.
The FDA together with other federal agencies and medicine manufacturers are committed to finding other options in developing alternative safety disposal policies.
How Dangerous Are Prescription Drugs If Not Disposed Properly?
Prescription drugs such as very potent narcotic drugs and several other controlled substances have instructions for flushing to reduce the danger of unintentional use or misuse.
Fentanyl patch, for instance, is a kind of medication in patch form that delivers the potent medication through the skin. It is advised to flush used or leftover patches because it can cause severe breathing problems and lead to death if accidentally ingested by babies, children, pets and even adults.
Even if a patch has been discarded after use, there are still some traces of the drug left in the patch. That is why it is advised to flush it down the sink or toilet instead of just throwing it in trash bins.
Environmental Concerns in Drug Disposal
Some people are questioning the way of disposing unused medications since they worry that trace levels of drug residue may be flushed down into rivers and lakes and affect the drinking water supply of the community.
Environmental experts have opposed this alternative way of unused medicine disposal, saying that instead of protecting the community from these harmful substances, the flushed drug substances may find their way to the water supply and endanger the health of the whole community.
However, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are continuously monitoring this method of medicine disposal and found no indication of environmental effects due to flushing so far. In other words, flushing unused potent substances poses no harm to the community since the effect of these drugs can only be achieved when the drug itself has been ingested and fully metabolized by the body.
The FDA has been conscientious in reviewing each kind of drug substance that is safe to be disposed by flushing down in the sink of toilets. Their primary aim is to keep the community free from harmful substances and provide a healthy community to live in. It is highly recommended to read the DFA document on Disposal of Unused Medicines to know more about the agency’s suggested disposal methods.
Proper Disposal of Inhaler Products
Inhaler products are prescribed to those who have asthma or other respiratory problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These inhalers used to have CFCs, which were found to be harmful to the environment as they may cause destruction of the ozone layer. These days, however, the harmful chemical in inhalers have been replaced by more environmentally friendly substances.
When these inhalers have been consumed, they should also be properly disposed. Since these are aerosol-type products, puncturing the inhaler or setting it directly on fire might be dangerous. Make sure to read the instructions on the label carefully prior to disposing it.
Medicines are intended to help treat medical conditions. However, if these substances are used beyond what is recommended or used by individuals who should not be taking that kind of medicine, it will definitely cause harm.
Drug addiction is a huge problem that continues to plague so many countries. Let us help by initiating campaigns to join the government’s program of properly disposing potent drugs to keep our communities healthy and safe.
Since 2010, the National Take Back Initiative has educated Americans about the dangers of leaving excess prescribed drugs inside their homes, and how a correct disposal method can become the first step to preventing prescription drug abuse. The most recent campaign was conducted last October 26, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Several counties and states have put their full support to this government activity:
- In Baltimore, the entire police force has coordinated with the DEA to push the event to the limelight, by offering their stations as drop off locations for those who want to throw away their unused medication. Lt. Michael Brothers of the Anne Arundel County Police shared in a news release that they will not interrogate locals who are planning to dispose of their medicine at the police stations. “We will not ask any questions. You can place them in the box and you can leave. No questions asked,” said Lt. Brothers.
- Government personnel and sheriff’s deputies at Harford County were assisted by DEA in transforming the county office parking lot into a drop off site. Doug Ellington of the DEA expressed his sentiments about the issue. “Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in this county… Non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as a drug of abuse,” Ellington said in a news item.
- The city of Huntington in West Virginia was able to amass about 30 pounds of prescription drugs across three Take Back stations. Cpl. Steve Vincent of the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department was surprised with the turnout. “We’ve been going for about an hour-and-a-half and we’ve already got two boxes filled up,” Vincent said.