#MailOrderWaste & the Need for Medication Disposal Programs


By Stephanie DuBois, Associate Director, Marketing Communications

Earth Day was yesterday and Saturday marks another nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. While this is a good opportunity for individuals to properly dispose of unused or expired medications at a safe location, consumers need more convenient access to disposal locations more than twice a year. That’s why NCPA members have stepped up to help their patients through the Dispose My Meds™ program. Since its inception in 2009, Dispose My Meds has collected over 200 tons of medications at more than 1,600 participating community pharmacies in 40 states across the country. (Note: opioids and other controlled substances are not allowed.)

Many of the medications being dropped off for safe disposal at community pharmacies come from excess mail order prescriptions that are auto-shipped to patients, whether they want the medication or not. We recently updated our “Waste Not, Want Not” slideshow with some new pictures of mail order waste (114 photos and counting!). This week, we are highlighting our latest mail order waste examples on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and we encourage you to do the same. Use the hashtag #mailorderwaste on each social media channel and share your stories and images of costly wasted medications. (Be sure to remove or black out all patient and other personal information before posting photos to comply with HIPAA and other privacy protections.)

Here’s an example of the scope of the mail order waste problem:

Mail Order Waste

This photo highlights approximately $4,378 in mail order waste for one patient. Imagine the amount of drugs that could have ended up in our waterways or environment from this one patient alone if they had not been properly disposed of.

To bring to light waste associated with mail order programs, we need your help. Send us your photos of mail order waste at disposemymeds@ncpanet.org. Please remove any patient identifying information, state the estimated value of the returned medications, and name the payer (if known), especially if it is a government entity.

Encourage your patients to get involved and oppose more mail order requirements in government-run programs like TRICARE and the VA. Join the fight at www.Fight4Rx.org and www.facebook.com/Fight4Rx. And don’t forget to share your stories online using #mailorderwaste.

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