By the Numbers: Storage and Disposal of Prescription Drugs

04.27.16
  • A new CVS Health poll explores attitudes about drug disposal.

Understanding public sentiment and knowledge about prescription drug abuse, particularly opioid painkillers, is an important part of designing solutions to the problem. An April 2016 poll of 2,000 registered voters conducted in partnership with Morning Consult yielded insights on how people store and dispose of their prescription medicines.

Drug Diversion is Widely Recognized as a Problem

Eighty percent of poll respondents believe at least some or the majority of the prescription drug abuse problem is tied to individuals taking medications prescribed for someone else. This finding illuminates the need for safely storing and disposing of prescription drugs so they do not fall into the wrong hands.

Education is Needed on Proper Disposal Methods

Poll responses reveal a misunderstanding of how unwanted, unused or expired drugs should be properly disposed of. Just 33 percent of registered voters acknowledged the primary way they dispose of unwanted, unused or expired medication is by taking them to a designated organization or facility, while the majority (51 percent) do not dispose of their unused medication at all or do so improperly. Specifically, 40 percent of respondents throw their medications in the trash, flush them down the toilet or pour them down a drain, while 11 percent hold onto their old medications.

Take It Back

Receptivity to drug take-back events is an encouraging sign for expanding proper disposal behaviors. Seventy-two percent of registered voters polled have already participated in or would be interested in participating in a drug take-back day to safely and anonymously dispose of prescription medications.

CVS Health is proud to support drug take-back days across the country, including National Pharmaceutical Take-Back Day. We also have teamed up with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids for the Medication Disposal for Safer Communities program, in which police departments can apply to receive a drug collection unit to help their communities safely dispose of unwanted medications, including controlled substances. Local law enforcement officials can learn more about the program and apply to receive a drug collection unit here.

Naloxone availability across the United States

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CVS Pharmacy patients in 41 states now have access to the opioid overdose-reversal drug, naloxone.

Follow our commitment to drug abuse prevention as we increase access to the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug.