Research Studies Prove At-home Medication Disposal Works
Multiple research studies show that providing at-home disposal packets, educational materials, and offering counseling can result in the proper disposal of up to 92% of leftover opioid prescriptions. Some studies distributed the disposal packets with a prescription, but the highest rates of proper disposal were achieved by mailing disposal packets to the patient a few days after surgery.
At-home Disposal Kits Increase Proper Opioid Disposal
Mailing medication disposal kits to patients increased safe opioid disposal by an average of 62%.
At the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Lead Researcher Anish K. Agarwal, MD, MPH, saw that after surgery, many patients kept leftover medications in the home increasing the risk of drug addiction and abuse. Agarwal wanted to find whether sending patients a disposal kit could prompt them to properly dispose of the unneeded opioids. His team sent $2 kits to over 200 patients and found that 62% more patients reported they properly disposed of their medications taking almost 500 unused tables off the streets.
Key data points
Distributing Packets and Education Boost Medication Disposal
Providing patients with packets, education materials, and awareness boosts medication disposal to 92% disposal.
As part of an Opioid Stewardship Initiative, researchers at the Shriners for Children Medical Center in Pasadena, CA wanted to find if giving medication disposal kits with prescriptions could reduce unused medications in the home. Researchers gave DisposeRx packets, an instructional flyer, and offered counseling to opioid prescription recipients and then followed up by phone. As a result, 92% of the participants reported using the provided DisposeRx to dispose of leftover medications.
Key data points
Read the Research study in the Journal of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, "Preventing Opioid Diversion and Abuse by Using an At-home Opioid Disposal Method: An Improvement Project in a Pediatric Outpatient Surgical Center"
Packets, Follow-ups, and Instructional Materials Increase Disposal Up to 71%
Studies indicate in-home disposal kits increase medication disposal.
Researcher John M. Edwards III, DNAP, CRNA surveyed almost 300 articles about opioid and medical waste disposal and found 8 to be applicable for his review. Of those, Edwards found all eight research studies indicate in-home opioid disposal systems provided by a healthcare facility produce proper medication disposal rates up to 71%.
Medication Disposal Rate with Intervention Methods
- 1. Compared to control group.
- 2. Includes cost of postage, flyer and packet.
- 3. Kit included flyer and packet.
- 4. Zhang DA, Luong M, Barragan E, Bushnell F, Cho R, Poon S. Disposal of unused opioids using an at-home disposal method. J Pediatr Soc North Am. 2021;3(1).
- 5. Brummett CM, Steiger R, Englesbe M, et al. Effect of an activated charcoal bag on disposal of unused opioids after an outpatient surgical procedure: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Surg. 2019;154(6):558-561.
- 6. Hite M, Dippre A, Heldreth A, et al. A multifaceted approach to opioid education, prescribing, and disposal for patients with breast cancer undergoing surgery. J Surg Res (Houst). 2021;257:597-604.v
- 7. Voepel-Lewis T, Farley FA, Grant J, et al. Behavioral Intervention and Disposal of Leftover Opioids: A Randomized Trial. Pediatrics. 2020;145(1):e20191431.
- 8. AdlerAC, Yamani AN, Sutton CD, Guffey DM, Chandrakantan A. Mail-back envelopes for retrieval of opioids after pediatric surgery. Pediatrics. 2020;145(3):e20192449.