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~ HOW ~


How to responsibly dispose of unwanted medications.

The Great Debate:  For many years people have had two methods of medication disposal - Trash and Toilet.  Unfortunately, both methods are still used.  When an immediate risk to health exists and no other method of medication disposal is available, flushing can be justified. But Rx Disposal and the Big Red Med Disposal Box make flushing unnecessary.   

Both Trash and Toilet are methods which have downsides. Both methods have caused environmental pollution. Trash can be picked by "trash pickers" which include domestic animals, wildlife, teenagers looking for discarded medications, and even curious toddlers who often explore items by placing items in their mouths.  Sewage treatment plants cannot remove medications and therefore, the effluent containing flushed medications is discharged into rivers, lakes, streams and oceans. Private septic systems discharge pharmaceuticals directly into ground water. Rx Disposal strongly advocates against the use of Trash and Toilet!

Movement Toward Disposal Bins:  In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation called "The Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act."  The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was assigned the task of writing federal regulations to implement the new law.  The DEA's regulations, which became effective on October 9, 2014, allowed for retail pharmacies (and other entities) to collect unwanted medications provided that the pharmacy utilizes a "pharmaceutical collection receptacle" (aka "bin", "kiosk", "drug drop box") that complies with DEA's specific criteria.  The Big Red Med Disposal Box meets DEA's regulations.  Depositing unwanted medications into a Big Red Med Disposal Box is responsible medication disposal. 

Variety of Substances and Containers:  Medications come in a variety of substances which are packaged in a variety of containers.  Pills, powders, patches, creams, and liquids are the most common substances.  Tubes, boxes, plastic medicine bottles, glass bottles, aerosol spray cans, and blister packs are some of the common packaging used to hold the medicine.  The variety of medicine and packaging combinations can present some disposal issues.  For example: when disposing of medication, should the medication be separated from its packaging?   Some say YES, while others say NO.   The Big Red Med Disposal Box says "No."  We recommend that you always keep the unwanted medication in its original container. 


Confidentiality:  It is not necessary to cross out any information on the bottle or other packaging.  Once you deposit the unwanted medication into the Big Red Med Disposal Box, the items which you deposit will never be viewed, sorted, identified or touched ever again.  The medication deposited into the Big Red Med Disposal Box drops into a special bag called an "inner liner."  The inner liner is immediately and forever sealed upon its removal from the Big Red Med Disposal Box by the trained pharmacist or authorized pharmacy staff. If the Big Red Med Disposal Box is in a police department, then the inner liner is sealed by police officers.  If the Big Red Med Disposal Box is located in a hospital, then authorized hospital staff will seal the inner liner.  If the Big Red Med Disposal Box is located in a long term care facility (LTCF), the inner liner is sealed by a member of the LTCF's managerial staff and a pharmacist from the sponsoring pharmacy or hospital.  Once the inner liner is sealed, by law it can never be opened again.  The sealed inner liner is opaque (i.e., no one can see what's in the inner liner bag) therefore, confidentiality is maintained.  The inner liner is also tear resistant, tamper-evident; serial numbered; and waterproof.   The sealed inner liner is transported to an incineration facility where the unopened sealed inner liner and its contents are reduced to inert ash by incineration at a temperature of approximately 1,800 degrees F during a certified "witness burn." DEA regulations require that the destruction of a sealed inner liner containing controlled medications be recorded on DEA Form 41. However, there is no record of whose medications are being incinerated.  DEA regulations impose strict handling procedures which maintain confidentiality. 

Liquids:  The following instructions are extremely important: Please make sure that caps on bottles containing liquids are on tight.  Wrap a paper towel (or two) around the bottle and place the bottle into a sealed plastic bag, such as a clear plastic zipper bag or a plastic bag sealed tightly with a twist tie.  Before sealing the bag, be sure to allow excess air to escape so that the bag is not a "balloon" that can burst.

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