How Pharmacists Can Help Patients “Safeguard My Meds”


NCPA Executive Committee member and Gloucester Pharmacy owner Keith Hodges recently joined actress and parent advocate Catherine Hicks (of the TV show “7th Heaven”) to launch the Safeguard My Meds patient education and safety campaign. On a whirlwind satellite media tour, they spoke to 30+ national and regional TV, radio, and newspaper outlets to raise awareness for the new program. Click here to watch one of those interviews.

When used as directed, prescription medicine can play a critical role in treating a range of medications condition. With the power of prescription medicines comes great responsibility for their use and storage. That is why NCPA has partnered with Purdue Pharma to launch Safeguard My Meds and offer information on simple, yet important, steps that can be taken in the home to protect prescription medicine from misuse.

A new national survey shows that while an overwhelming majority of Americans say that it is extremely or very important to safely store and dispose of prescription medicine, many may not be doing everything they can to protect their medicines. Most of those surveyed indicated that they keep prescription medicine in an unlocked cabinet, closet or drawer in their homes. Moreover, respondents frequently said they store prescription medicine in the bathroom or kitchen, two areas in which temperatures and conditions could compromise a drug’s integrity and are often unsecured and easily accessed by anyone entering the home.

There can be dangerous consequences when prescriptions aren’t stored securely, particularly for young people.

  • According to the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, for young people ages 12-17, prescription drugs have become the second most abused illegal drug (behind marijuana) with controlled substances playing a major role.
  • In fact, one in five U.S. high school students says they have abused a prescription medicine at least once in their lives.
  • And a majority (70 percent) of those young people say they are acquiring those drugs from a friend or relative, not the street corner as once thought.

As medication experts, community pharmacists can play a major role in reversing this trend. Encourage your patients to talk to you about how to store, use and dispose of prescription medicine properly. In particular, help your patients understand the ways to safeguard prescription medicines. For instance, medicines at greater risk of being abused – such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and depressants – should be kept in locked storage containers. These medicines are targets for theft, so extra precautions should be taken. Other measures include taking an inventory of prescription medicines in the home at least twice a year; storing medicines in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children and pets; and never sharing prescription medicine with anyone else.

NCPA has been long-time partners with Purdue Pharma on issues of drug safety, including our partnership on the Protect Your Pharmacy Now! anti-crime campaign as well as the  Prescription Drug Safety Award, which recognizes pharmacists who have reached out in their communities to provide education on the benefits of the correct use of prescription drug products and the hazards associated with their misuse. We’re proud to work with them on Safeguard My Meds and look forward to offering members increased information and resources as a result of this partnership in the coming weeks. Information on safe medicine storage, along with a variety of downloadable print, video and online materials with valuable tips can be found at www.SafeguardMyMeds.org.

5 Responses to “How Pharmacists Can Help Patients “Safeguard My Meds””


  1. 1 Dean October 23, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    The first step towards stopping the growing teenage prescription drug abuse problem is safeguarding the medicine in your home. There is a new product on the market, MedGuard Safe which is an electronic safe that installs easily in your medicine cabinet and is designed specifically to store prescription medicine. It even comes with a velcro-mounted 7-day pill dispenser. It has a large electronic keypad, and can only be opened with the owner’s personally chosen 3 to 8 digit code. It’s rugged metal construction and double-throw bolts make it highly secure. The safe is available in select Walgreen’s stores or it can be purchased on-line at http://www.MedGuardSafe.com Every home with a teenager, or teenage visitors, should have a MedGuard Safe.

  2. 2 Dean October 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    The first step towards stopping the growing teenage prescription drug abuse problem is safeguarding the medicine in your home. There is a new product on the market, MedGuard Safe which is an electronic safe that installs easily in your medicine cabinet and is designed specifically to store prescription medicine. It even comes with a velcro-mounted 7-day pill dispenser. It has a large electronic keypad, and can only be opened with the owner’s personally chosen 3 to 8 digit code. It’s rugged metal construction and double-throw bolts make it highly secure. The safe will be available in select Walgreen’s stores or it can be purchased on-line at http://www.MedGuardSafe.com Every home with a teenager, or teenage visitors, should have a MedGuard Safe.

  3. 3 Mark October 25, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    There are many option to securely store prescription medications in the home. Our product, the RxDrugSAFE which is featured in the SafeguardMyMeds video campaign, is an all steel, fingerprint access medical safe that is recommended by both physicians and pharmacists to securely lock up medications at home. Because the RxDrugSAFE utilizes fingerprint recognition, there are no PIN codes or passwords to remember. A simple swipe of a finger, and the safe opens. The RxDrugSAFE is designed to securely mount in a drawer, cabinet or closet, but can also be used when traveling with its optional carry handle. For more information, please visit http://www.rxdrugsafe.com or, you can order directly from McKesson and Cardinal Health, as well as from numerous retail pharmacies. This product is available now and is stocked.

  4. 4 Shirley Ziepfel January 10, 2011 at 2:20 am

    I need help with safe gurading my medicine. I have been VERY ILL for the past 6 year’s. I am on alot of perscription medication and a member of my family injured his knee, but this started along time ago time ago. My medicine kept comming up missing. I have bought a total of 5 safes, even going to the length of buying a safe to put inside another safe combo and key lock safes. I do not know how they have got into them but they have. I do not know what else to do. Now my husband is laid off work and I can not afford to purchase any thing. We are barely eating, due to having no money. They did get caught several times and the last time they had a choice to get treatment or I was going to put them in jail. they decided to get treatment. I have hid them, locked them, even put them alltogeather and put them in a pillow case and slept on them but the pillow case was cut and they were taken. I NEED HELP FROM SOME ONE TO PROVIDIDE SOMETHING I CAN PUT MY MEDICINE IN THAT IT WILL NOT BE TAKEN AGAIN. It is making me sick when I dont have the medicine I need to take, but it does not seem to matter. I was in the hospital a couple year’s ago with a feeding tube down my nose and went to the bath room, came out a little sooner than they thought I would and I cought them taking them out of the locker out of my purse. I could not leave them at home for that reason but it did no good to take them with me either. Is there some place that may provide a safe way to keep my medicine locked up to the point that NO ONE can get in it. As I stated I have no extra money to spend, and I need to take the medicine I am prescribed and I do not know what to do.
    thank you for your time.
    Shirley Ziepfel.

  5. 5 Billy Futter January 20, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Assuming responsibility for storage and usage of medicine requires that the patient has both the Ability (knowledge, skill and resources) and the Willingness to do so (motivation, commitment). This requires that pharmacists check both these two dimensions of patient behavior (A and W). i.e. their role is to provide education to assure Ability and counseling to assure Willingness.

    Changes do occur that influence patient A and W. Therefore, it is not sufficient for a pharmacist to provide once off education – their professional obligation to pharmaceutical care demands a continuous monitoring and reinforcement when deficiencies in A or W occur.

    To what extent is this happening.


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