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January 3: Pharmacies Need More Drug Disposal Education

Posted on in Industry Updates by Amplicare Team

Plus, the latest healthcare and pharmacy news to know this week.

The Story

When it comes to providing information on proper drug disposal, pharmacies have room for improvement. In a study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, fewer than half of the pharmacies surveyed provided correct instructions on how to dispose of antibiotics and opioids. Nearly 900 pharmacies in California were surveyed. 

Why It Matters

For the study, researchers posed as parents looking to dispose of leftover opioids and antibiotics. The Food and Drug Administration provides guidance for properly disposing of unused, expired, or unwanted medications, but the directions provided by most pharmacies did not meet these standards. Only 47% gave instructions in line with the FDA’s guidelines for antibiotic disposal while 34% provided accurate information for opioid disposal. On weekends, these numbers dropped to 15% and 7%, respectively.

Similarly, 91 pharmacies noted the had a medication take back program for antibiotics and 82 said they had one for opioids. Take back programs provide safe and convenient ways for people to dispose of their prescription drugs. Some pharmacies also offer mail-back programs or disposal kiosks for unused medicine. The FDA advises people to take advantage of these programs or, in the event one is unavailable, to dispose of them at home by flushing or mixing medications with materials such as kitty litter before throwing them away. 

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The study may be limited in scope but it points to the need for more education among pharmacy staff. Given their proximity to the community, pharmacists have a unique opportunity to help patients understand and avoid medication abuse. Pharmacies have already made strides by offering take back programs and championing the use of naloxone. Ensuring that each person on staff understands the FDA guidelines and can adequately communicate them to patients, particularly in areas where drug disposal programs are unavailable, will help to continue these efforts.

Other healthcare news to know:

1. New York’s Governor Cuomo vetoed a bill designed to license and oversee PBMs. Times Herald-Record.

2. The FDA plans to ban most flavored e-cigarettes, except menthol and tobacco. The New York Times

3. U.S. drugmakers have increased list prices for more than 250 drugs. Reuters.

4. Forty percent of consumers would switch providers to get access to affordable payment arrangements, according to a new AccessOne study. Healthcare Finance.

5. Colorado’s law capping the price of insulin at $100 a month went into effect on Wednesday. KRDO.

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