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New state law encourages safe disposal of prescriptions

EPHRAIM MCDOWELL HEALTH

Press release

Beginning mid-July, a new law will go into effect to encourage the safe disposal of controlled substances and to make it easier to properly dispose of them at home. The goal of the new law is to raise consumer awareness about the dangers of keeping unused or expired addictive prescription drugs in their home and to help people get into the habit of disposing of them in an environmentally safe manner. This is a simple but important step toward the prevention of addictions.

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, unwanted or expired prescription drugs are an easily accessible source for those who abuse medications. Taking prescription drugs that are not medically necessary is one of the main ways people become addicted. Disposing of these unused drugs can help curb the rate of addiction in our society.

In compliance with the new law, pharmacies will be required to provide education regarding the methods of proper disposal to patients who receive prescriptions for controlled substances. The education may be done through posted signage, in writing, or verbally. Additionally, pharmacies must distribute or sell a nontoxic composition for home disposal of unused or expired controlled substances. Some pharmacies have already implemented the new law.

Disposal of drugs can be confusing. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a list of drugs that are recommended for disposal by flushing but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes a different stand and does not support flushing due to the potential for contamination of water sources. Customers often assume they can bring unused medications back to the pharmacy for disposal but not all pharmacies are designated as a “take back pharmacy”.

The new law will help guide customers to proper disposal alternatives. Each county in Kentucky has permanent drug take back boxes at either the police station or sheriff’s office. 

Boyle County has take-back boxes at both the police station inside city hall and the Sheriff’s Office inside the courthouse.

If taking the medications to a drop-off box is not convenient, pharmacies will soon be distributing or selling a method for safe disposal at home.