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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Nation's Biggest Pharmacies Are Not Accepting Unused Medications

The safe disposal of unused or unwanted medications is crucial for keeping the drugs out of the wrong hands. Every year, National Take Back Days are held throughout the country, people can bring their prescription medications to be disposed of safely. Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it would allow pharmacies to accept unwanted medications anytime; a move that many experts thought was in the right direction. However, now a year later, it would appear that our nation’s pharmacies failed to get the memo.

It turns out that only about 1 percent of U.S. pharmacies have set up programs to accept unwanted prescription drugs, The New York Times reports. Both CVS and Walgreens, the nation’s largest pharmacy chains, have not implemented safe drug disposal programs.

Walgreens, with 8,200 store locations nationwide, is in a position to severely disrupt the flow of unwanted prescription drugs. However, the best the pharmacy chain has been able to come up with is a DIY disposal kit for $3.99, according to the article. People who buy the kit have to mix the pills with water and chemicals to disable the pharmacological properties of the medication.

“We consider this the safest and most convenient way to dispose of unused medications,” said James Graham, a Walgreens spokesman. 

The lack of effort among CVS and Walgreens is not a good sign for the future of take back programs, according to Howard Weissman, the executive director of the St. Louis affiliate of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

“People mean well and want to do the right thing, but in the same way we mean to bring our plastic bags back to grocery stores, we wind up just throwing them in the trash,” said Weissman. “Until we figure out how to get people to understand how dangerous this stuff can be, parents are going to keep stocking their medicine cabinets with loaded revolvers.”

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