Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco surveyed nearly 900 California pharmacies by phone over a two-month period in 2018 during the week and on weekends. For the study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers posed as parents with leftover opioids and antibiotics from a child’s surgery.
They were looking for correct drug disposal instructions based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.
“In general terms, we agree that the pharmacy counter is the ideal place to communicate medication management information to patients,” said William Simpson, president of DisposeRx. “However, this research was conducted in early 2018 and much has changed in just the past two years as we’ve seen a huge evolution in education and access to disposal efforts not adequately captured in the research.”
In the past 24 months, DisposeRx has rolled out its drug disposal program to more than 50% of the retail pharmacies in the U.S., including tens of thousands of pharmacies and grocery stores, as well as 90% of the pharmacy and medical wholesale distributors. The company is also educating patients and donating packets through 160 Community Outreach Partners in 44 states.
While much of the commitment and progress from retailers, wholesalers and community stakeholders has been driven by the opioid public health crisis, Simpson acknowledges that there is much work to be done to effectively and permanently change the behavior of patients with regards to medication management—from storage to disposal.
“Most people understand the concept of Take-Back Days, which have been well promoted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for the past five years. However, there is lack of communication about all effective, innovative disposal methods offered in the marketplace, and we must broaden the message about the risks associated with all leftover medications—not just opioids,” Simpson said.
Ann Hamlin, vice president of scientific affairs, noted that the DisposeRx team has met with key federal agencies to educate them about the growth of DisposeRx in the retail pharmacy and health system space, as well as the evolution of the disposal messaging. They have also shared their concerns about confusion generated by the federal agencies around the topic of disposal.
“I believe the federal agencies are eager to help drive the behavior change needed around medication management,” Hamlin said. “All of us share the same concerns of misuse, addiction, accidental poisonings and antibiotic resistance, and have a role to play in education and communication in the short and long term.”