Medication Safety Week is April 3-7, 2017
Kaiser Permanente has installed drug disposal kiosks in 22 of its pharmacies in a pilot project aimed at reducing the risks posed by unwanted and expired medications.
The kiosks — located in California, Colorado and Washington — are available for public use during regular pharmacy hours. Collected drugs are disposed of according to federal, state and local regulations. Kaiser Permanente personnel monitor the kiosks and keep records of collections. The actual disposal is managed by a registered pharmaceutical waste handler in an environmentally safe manner.
Kaiser Permanente plans to increase the total number of its drug collection kiosks to 64 by the end of May, with the program expanding to locations in Oregon, Virginia and Georgia, where state laws allow operation of disposal kiosks in retail pharmacies. The organization is also exploring opportunities for public-private partnerships that could fund additional kiosks.
Drug poisoning is the leading cause of death by injury in the United States, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Opioid painkillers accounted for 33,091 drug overdoses — 90 a day — in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the majority of prescription drug abusers get their drugs from friends and family, often taking them from home medicine cabinets without asking.
“Properly disposing of prescription medication can reduce the number of people who misuse, abuse or overdose from these powerful drugs,” said Amy Gutierrez, Kaiser Permanente’s chief pharmacy officer. “Placing these drug collection kiosks in our pharmacies facilitates access to disposal options and is one way we can help protect the communities we serve.”
Unwanted or expired medications can be especially dangerous for children. A recent study by the organization Safe Kids Worldwide found that the percentage of child poisoning deaths due to medications has nearly doubled since the 1970s, from 36 percent to 64 percent.
Improper disposal of medications can also negatively impact the environment when flushed down the toilet or put in a landfill.
Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to promote safe and appropriate drug disposal also includes “mail back,” postage-paid envelopes available for $5 (to cover the cost of disposal) at its outpatient pharmacies. The organization is transitioning to a program in which these envelopes will be available at no cost at some of its pharmacies.
In addition, Kaiser Permanente regularly participates in the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day by hosting collection events at its medical centers. Over the last five years, members of the public have turned in approximately 13 tons of unwanted and expired medications at Kaiser Permanente facilities during the Drug Take-Back Day events, which are held twice annually. The next Drug Take-Back Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 29, 2017. Find a Take-Back Day location near you.
Below is a list of the Kaiser Permanente outpatient pharmacies with drug collection kiosks currently available during regular service hours: