Proper disposal of unused prescription medication remains a major public health priority for the FDA, particularly for prescription opioid pain medicines, due to our nation’s ongoing crisis of misuse, abuse, addiction and overdose.
In 2017, retail pharmacies dispensed more than 191 million opioid prescriptions to almost 60 million patients. According to FDA data, as many as 90% of patients who received a prescription for an opioid reported that they did not finish what was prescribed to them, leaving potentially millions of unused and unnecessary doses of opioids in households across America, and posing harm to those for whom these medications were not prescribed. During that same year, 47,600 people died of an overdose involving opioids. Sadly, we know that many of these deaths resulted from the victim having obtained opioids from friends, family, or others. In addition, children and pets also continue to be harmed by unused drugs that they find in the home.
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