Quantification of an ongoing community-based medication take-back program

Laura A Perry, Bradley W Shinn, John Stanovich
Journal of the American Pharmacists Association: JAPhA 2014, 54 (3): 275-9

OBJECTIVE: To develop a medication take-back program to evaluate current medication disposal practices and to quantify medication waste.

METHODS: Seven medication take-back days have been held in a local community. The University of Findlay College of Pharmacy, local law enforcement, and municipal officials have collaborated to develop and sustain the events. All medications returned were quantified by documenting the drug name, dose, quantity, type, source, and estimated cost. Additionally, a participant survey was administered to determine demographics, prior disposal habits, and reason for disposal.

RESULTS: A total of 786,882 dosing units estimated to be worth $1,118,020 were collected. Participant surveys (n = 818) suggest common reasons for disposal were expired (50%) or discontinued (40%) medications. The average community pharmacy prescription contained 35 dosing units worth approximately $68, and the average mail-service prescription contained 95 dosing units worth approximately $205. Antihypertensive agents, gastrointestinal agents, and analgesics were the most common therapeutic categories returned.

CONCLUSION: Ongoing, collaborative medication take-back events are an effective method of removing unused medications from the community. Although the majority of medications collected were originally dispensed in community pharmacies, the average unused prescription from mail-service sources contained almost three times as many dosage units. These data suggest that the larger quantities more typically dispensed by mail-service pharmacies may contribute considerably to the problems associated with surplus medications. Further studies are needed to investigate this association.

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