The Friday Five – National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
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By, Kayla Matthews, HealthIT writer and technology enthusiast, TechBlog
October is here, which means it’s time for medical professionals to prepare for this month’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. What do professionals need to know about National Take Back Day? Why should they participate in this biannual event? National Take Back Day occurs twice a year. This week’s Friday Five covers everything you need to know about October’s National Take Back Day, which takes place next week.
What Is National Take Back Day?
First, what is National Take Back Day? The DEA organizes this program every April and October, with the goal of allowing individuals to return any unused or expired prescription medications so professionals can properly dispose of them and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. The program started in 2010. During the April 2018 Take Back Day, the DEA (@deahq) collected more than a million pounds of prescription medications nationwide.
According to the Take Back Day website, upwards of 6.2 million Americans abused prescription drugs in 2016, and that number is continuing to climb. Additionally, the majority of the prescription drugs people abused that year did not come from medical professionals — they came from the medicine cabinet of the abuser’s friends or family.
In addition to keeping prescription medication off the streets and out of the wrong hands, this program ensures the drugs get disposed of correctly. Dumping prescription medication in the garbage or down the drain can be dangerous to people and animals — there are very few medications the FDA recommends flushing down the drain for disposal. Most of these are opioid pain relievers and a few others that are too dangerous to throw away, even after taking the appropriate precautions.
Between the Events
Most patients who are concerned about the proper disposal of prescriptions don’t want to keep old or unused medication around their home for six months at a time. Between these two events, depending on the pharmacy, patients may be able to mail unused medications back to the distributing pharmacy to enable the pharmacists to dispose of the drug properly.
Not all pharmacies offer this kind of mail-back program, so for those that are unable to participate in the biannual Take Back Day, the DEA maintains permanent collection facilities where people can drop off prescription medications throughout the year.
Proper Disposal Is a Must
Proper disposal of these kinds of medications is vitally important, and that doesn’t just apply to individual patients who might have a prescription or two they need to get rid of. It can apply on a much larger commercial scale as well.
Many medications, such as insulin and some vaccines, need to remain at a certain temperature to preserve their safety and efficacy. If, for example, there was a power outage that caused the cooling system in a warehouse or on a transport truck to fail, these drugs would need appropriate disposal.
Becoming a Permanent Collection Facility
Pharmacies and other medical facilities can choose to become a permanent DEA-certified Take Back facility that provides a place for patients to return prescription drugs throughout the year. The DEA maintains a searchable data base of permanent collection facilities that can help individuals, whether they are a patient of the facility or not, find a place to dispose of their expired drugs.
Other Things to Know
The next scheduled National Take Back Day is happening Oct. 27, 2018. Even if a medical facility doesn’t want to become a permanent collection facility for the DEA, there is still more than enough time to contact the DEA and become a drop-off point for this event.
With the government having declared the opioid crisis a national emergency last year, the DEA has put more emphasis on these Take Back Days than ever before, with the goal of keeping prescription painkillers out of the reach of addicts and others who might abuse them.
For more information about this year’s second National Take Back Day, visit the DEA’s event website at takebackday.dea.gov.
ICYMI – Our other Friday Fives and Blog posts from HCNR’s Nurse Lauren.