April Fraud Fridays – Proper Drug Disposal: A Key Step in Fraud and Substance Abuse Prevention

By Jessica Johnson, SIU Clinical Consultant, Prime Therapeutics

April 21, 2023

Over the last couple weeks, we have discussed tips to protect your health care data and how to spot potential fraud in telehealth, but the fact is, a potential threat to you and others is sitting in your medicine cabinet right at this very moment. That’s right, the medications you take – or rather the medication you don’t take – can have a far-reaching impact.

On its surface, it doesn’t seem like much of an issue at all. You’ve taken your prescription as directed and no longer need to take it, but if you have some medication left, what happens next is key. Perhaps the container sits in a cabinet or gets pushed to the back of a drawer. But that medication could fall into the wrong hands and/or be consumed by someone else, which could lead to poisoning, accidental overdose, or even worse. So, what should you do?

The first tip is that any unused or unneeded medications should not be thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet, particularly as some prescription medications are toxic and require special handling so as not to create hazards for others. When drugs are thrown in the trash, they could be removed from the waste cycle and re-sold, while drugs flushed down the toilet can possibly contaminate the water supply.

The simple fact is that proper disposal of medication is not only simple, but it should be considered an important step, just like taking the medication in the first place. You can read more on how to dispose of unused medicine here, but one convenient option is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which is coming up quickly on April 22.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is an annual event coordinated by federal and local law enforcement “to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.” You can locate a take back site here, but your health plan or pharmacist may have other options beyond Take Back Day. In fact, some pharmacies have mail-in or drop off options for waste medication.

Proper disposal of medication is a public health issue, and you can play an important role. Read more at:

https://www.cbp.gov/employee-resources/health-wellness/substance-abuse-prevention/national-take-back-day

 

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