As a pharmacist, you know what medications your patients are taking. But do you know what happens to them once they leave the pharmacy?
The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs – and a majority of these drugs were obtained from a friend or family member.
The reality is that many individuals do not comprehend the risk of holding onto unused or expired medicine. In another 2018 survey, more than half of respondents admitted they have at least 1-3 bottles of unused prescriptions in their home. Eventually, these have to end up somewhere.
Providing clear, simple instructions on how (and why) to dispose of drugs is an important part of the patient experience that should not be overlooked. So how can pharmacies do their part to properly educate the public?
The DEA Drug Take Back initiative is a great way to participate in the safety of your community and help promote awareness. The DEA holds 2 national take back days each year, and the next event is coming up on Saturday, October 26th. Mark your calendars!
How Do I Participate?
Consider implementing a disposal collection box if you don't have one already. Provide a service to your community that will also help to differentiate your pharmacy.
Advertise the service – Hand out flyers, post on social media, display signs. You can even use these pre-made materials for a quick and easy option.
Not able to start your own program at the moment? Help guide your patients to where they can find an established collection site.
While you may already offer a year-round disposal program at your pharmacy, the national take backs are a great opportunity to boost community participation and draw more customers into your pharmacy. Spread the word now if you haven’t already!
Counseling patients on how to properly take their medication is essential, but it is equally important to show how to safely dispose of it afterward. This National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, remember that patient care does not end at the pharmacy door.
Pharmacists have a lot of options for encouraging better drug storage habits. During Poison Prevention Week, they can include educational pamphlets with their patients’ prescriptions. These provide tips for keeping medications out of reach of children and animals, and list phone numbers for local poison control centers. Also, if a patient has opted for Easy Open caps for their pill bottles, the pharmacy staff can give a verbal reminder to them about careful storage. (PioneerRx users can easily see if a patient has selected this preference at the Fill Screen if the Easy Open Cap option is highlighted in red.)
With the right pharmacy technology, independent pharmacists can address common issues that lead to accidental poisoning.
-Integrate with a prescription monitoring program (PMP) to search your state’s database for patient drug histories
-Use a Look-a-Like/Sound-a-Like warning to advise your patients about drugs that may be confused with others with similar names or descriptions
-Create allergy alerts to avoid dispensing medications with ingredients that may be harmful to a patient
-Offer multiple lines of communication to your patients! Direct messaging is a more convenient, effective way for patients to contact their pharmacists with questions, concerns, and education about their prescriptions.