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More Research Needed on Drug Take-Back Programs, Report Concludes


More research is needed before officials heavily invest in prescription drug take-back programs as a key component of substance abuse prevention strategies, a new report concludes. Current findings suggest that these programs’ efficiency varies considerably, according to the report by Carnevale Associates.

Drug take-back programs are becoming an increasingly popular way to provide people with a secure and convenient way to dispose of unused medications. Carnevale Associates surveyed 148 programs to better understand them and their effectiveness. They found no evidence that these programs affect prescription drug abuse.

“Until research can properly assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of take-backs, scarce prevention resources should fund proven policies, programs, and practices,” notes the report. These include prescription drug monitoring programs, and initiatives to modify doctors’ prescribing behaviors.

The report states that data are needed to determine whether take-backs reduce the size or scope of the prescription drug epidemic. In order to do that, researchers must determine what percentage of controlled drugs is consumed and what percentage is returned. Limited data suggest that mail-back and event-based programs appear less efficient than ongoing bin-based programs, according to the report.

5 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Kathy Mohlfeld
    Kathy Mohlfeld / February 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Our program had similar goals as the one listed above. It is important to note that many crimes are ones of opportunity, so to take prescription drugs out of circulation is a good thing.

  2. Avatar of Sarajane Siegfriedt
    Sarajane Siegfriedt / February 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    This article reads like a press release by the Big Pharma lobbyists who are swarming the doors of the Washington State Capital as members go to a vote on our Take Back Your Meds bill spreading doubt and misinformation. There is no cost to state government or taxpayers because the pharmaceutical manufacturers pay about 2 cents per prescription. This is an ongoing program and not a special event. Thus all the objections from the “research” are met. The headline could just as well read, “Well-designed Take-back Programs Work.”

    To say more research is needed is just a stall from Big Pharma. We know what works and what doesn’t. Canada has such a program and it works. Meanwhile, more young people are dying from experimenting with prescription drugs. Shame on you!

  3. Avatar of Lois Daunis
    Lois Daunis / February 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    We do not consider our prescription drug take-back events a long-term solution to reduce prescription drug abuse. They are designed to a) raise community awareness about the issues of drug abuse and the environmental impact to our water supply/landfills b) change the culture around the disposal process and, finally, lead to c) the installation of 24/7 drop boxes at our police departments so safe disposal becomes a common practice.

  4. Joshua / February 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    by putting the drop boxes at police stations you imply that there is something illegal about posessing expired medications. people are less likely to use them because they don’t want to be video taped in an activity that is assumed to be criminal. put the drop boxes at pharmacies and you increase of the drop boxes and reduce the environmental impact. it also adds convienience. people who take prescription drugs are going to the pharmacy anyways, in the same way that criminals will be going to the police station.

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