Commentary on “How to dump old prescription drugs safely"

As submitted to USA Today
By Robert J. Greenwood

We at the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) agree with the concerns addressed in Liz Szabo's recent article, "How to dump old prescription drugs safely". We encourage patients to talk with their community pharmacists about the best way to store and get rid of medicine no longer needed.

Over 1,000 community pharmacies nationwide are participating in the voluntary Dispose My Meds program ( offering take back programs for consumers to properly dispose of non-controlled unused and unwanted drugs not recommended for flushing. Community pharmacists are the health care professionals advising patients just before medications are used and stand ready to review and assist patients if their medications go unused or expired. Previous surveys have found that nearly 3 out of 4 patients said that they would be willing or very willing to return medications to a pharmacy and 84 percent indicate a local pharmacy would be the most convenient location to dispose of unused or expired medicines (compared to going to a special collection event or their local police dept).

You can also talk to your community pharmacist about safe ways to store your medication at home. A new campaign, Safeguard My Meds ( offers tools and resources to help you keep your medicines safe. For instance, it recommends that you should maintain a list of medicines in your home, keep them in a locked storage container in a cool, dry place out of the reach, children and pets and never share your medicines with others.

Your community pharmacist looks forward to talking to you soon.

Robert J. Greenwood, RPh
NCPA President
Waterloo, Iowa pharmacy owner

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