(Silver Spring, MD, Friday, April 26, 2019) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced the launch of a new education campaign to help Americans understand the important role they play in removing and properly disposing of unused prescription opioids from their homes. This new initiative is part of the FDA’s continued efforts to address the nationwide opioid crisis and aims to help decrease unnecessary exposure to opioids and prevent new addiction. The “Remove the Risk” campaign is targeting women ages 35-64, who are most likely to oversee household health care decisions and often serve as the gatekeepers to opioids and other prescription medications in the home.
Prescription opioids are powerful, pain-reducing medicines that can help patients successfully manage pain when prescribed for the right condition and when used properly. When misused or abused, however, these drugs can cause serious harm, including addiction, overdose and death. In 2017, retail pharmacies dispensed more than 191 million opioid prescriptions to almost 60 million patients, either as first-time prescriptions or refills. As many as 90% of these patients reported not finishing what was prescribed to them, potentially leaving millions of unused prescription opioids in medicine cabinets and elsewhere in U.S. homes if not disposed of properly. During that same year, 47,600 people died from an overdose involving opioids. According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, half of people who misused prescription opioids got them from a friend or family member.
Medicine take-back options are the preferred way to dispose of most types of unneeded medicines safely, including opioids. Authorized locations may be in retail pharmacies; hospital or clinic pharmacies; and law enforcement facilities. Some authorized collection sites may also offer mail-back programs or “drop-boxes” to assist patients in safe disposal of their unused medicines. The next National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is on April 27, 2019.