800 Community Pharmacies Launch Initiative for Safe Disposal of Unused Patient Medications

Alexandria, Va. - April 19, 2010

Nearly 800 community pharmacies in 40 states are making it easier than ever for consumers to safely dispose of unused patient medications at their local pharmacy, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and Sharps Compliance, Inc. announced today. 

A new Web site, www.disposemymeds.org, allows consumers to search for a participating pharmacy disposal program by city, state, or ZIP code. Some exclusions apply. NCPA is encouraging other community pharmacies to voluntarily sign up for the program in coming weeks and months as part of an on-going effort. 

The pharmacies are kicking off the "Dispose My Meds" campaign in conjunction with the 40th annual Earth Week (April 17-24). At participating pharmacies, consumers may be able to dispose of unused medications with postage-paid envelopes or participate in onsite programs where pharmaceuticals are collected and disposed of properly. 

It is estimated that more than four billion prescriptions are written annually in the U.S. and up to 40 percent of drugs dispensed outside of hospitals aren't taken, generating some 200 million pounds of unused pharmaceuticals each year. Unused patient medications are a contributor to accidental poisonings, which have involved an 80 percent increase in U.S. deaths from accidental overdose of narcotics in a recent six-year period. Studies have found waste pharmaceuticals in the drinking water of more than 50 million Americans, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is now studying these and other contaminants to determine whether regulations are needed. 

"Safe and practical disposal programs make a real difference in addressing this growing public health concern," said Joseph H. Harmison, PD, NCPA President and pharmacy owner in Arlington, TX. "I commend these pharmacies for stepping up for the good of their communities and their patients. And, hopefully, consumers will gain a greater appreciation of their local community pharmacy. I also appreciate the support our allies and sponsors have shown for this effort." 

The Dispose My Meds effort builds on the success of the work of the Iowa Pharmacy Association to enroll 300+ pharmacies in the state in a drug disposal program launched in November 2009. Many pharmacies are using the products of TakeAway Environmental Return System, via a recent partnership between NCPA and Sharps Compliance Inc. 

"We are proud to work with NCPA and its membership to more efficiently and effectively address the problem pharmacists, patients and communities face with unused patient medication," said Claude A. Dance, Sharps Compliance Inc., Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing. "It also gives patients and pharmacists' proactive adherence and counseling opportunities to ensure patients are taking the meds as prescribed by their physician as well as a way to safely discard their unused medications and keep our communities safer." 

The Dispose My Meds program and Web site have received statements of support from a number of safety and environmental groups including the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The initiative has been recognized as an official activity by the Earth Day Network. 

"The voluntary effort by community pharmacies through the Dispose My Medicines program is an important step in educating the public on the need to safely and environmentally process pharmaceutical waste," said Nate Byer, Director of Earth Day 2010. "The National Community Pharmacists Association is setting an important precedent as it becomes ever more evident that private sector businesses and organizations must help drive such initiatives aimed at improving our national community health and address the challenge of safe disposal and recovery of potentially hazardous waste." 

Mary Elizabeth Elliott, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America Vice President, Communications, Membership and Information Technology added: "Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in communities across the country, and the Dispose My Meds campaign and Web site is a great tool to help keep unused and expired medications out of the wrong hands." 

"By providing patients with a safe and easy way to dispose of unused medications, this innovative program can prevent expired or unused drugs from being mis-used or abused," said Dianne Radigan, director of community relations for Cardinal Health. "The Cardinal Health Foundation is proud to support NCPA in empowering community pharmacists to take an active role in helping their communities address this growing public health issue." 

Sponsors making the program possible include Astra Zeneca, Apotex Corp., Covidien, King Pharmaceuticals, the Community Pharmacy Foundation, and the Cardinal Health Foundation. What follows is video demonstration with an NCPA member pharmacy that is participating in the Dispose My Meds program.

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The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA®) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 22,700 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent an $88 billion health-care marketplace, employ over 65,000 pharmacists, and dispense over 40% of all retail prescriptions. To learn more go to www.ncpanet.org or read NCPA's blog, The Dose, at http://ncpanet.wordpress.com.

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