National Pilot Project: Questions & Answers



Q1: Who is this project intended for? 


Upwards of 70% of prescription medications, many of which are dangerous and addictive, go unused - often left to sit in unlocked medicine cabinets*. Leaving them in the cabinet for a ‘rainy day’ puts yourself and your loved ones at risk for misuse. Our goal is to get rid of this medication before extended family members begin visiting one another. Our core objectives are to: 


  1. Call attention to the need to safely dispose of expired and unused medications.

  2. Help recipients take immediate action to rid their home of unused medications. 

  3. Drive awareness for the medication disposal drop-boxes provided by local pharmacies.


Q2: What is the threat of leftover medications? 


Leftover medications, particularly opioids, pose an enormous threat to the health and safety of the American population. Because these medications are in a prescription bottle or carry a prescription label, individuals are more likely to consider experimenting or misusing them in ways that they would not otherwise consider, such as seeking out ‘street drugs.’


But, getting rid of leftover medication isn’t always easy. It is not recommended that medication be flushed or thrown away. It should be disposed through proper channels – which can make it unnecessarily hard or confusing for consumers. Most pharmacies in the US still don’t offer instore medication disposal. That needs to change.


Q4: Why is this a holiday effort? 


We chose to build this effort around the holiday season because it is a time of year when our homes are full of loved ones – the people we want to protect from substance misuse. We think one of the best ways to get leftover medication out of people’s homes is to encourage family leaders to protect their family members – siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, children and grandchildren – that come “home” over the holiday season. 


We also recognize that while the holidays are a time of cheer and merriment, they can also be a particularly vulnerable time for people who struggle with mental health issues, or find themselves in a state-of-mind that could lead them to experiment with pills they find easily accessible at home. 

Q5.  What do you hope people will do in response to this campaign?


We hope that recipients of the holiday card are motivated to mail back their unused medication in the provided bags and clear their household of leftover medication before the holidays. Additionally, we hope they seek out tools to properly dispose of those medications going forward, like the DEA dropbox locator.  Responsible local pharmacies who provide their customers proper medication disposal at the point of sale offer the most convenient way to safely dispose of all forms of medications.  


Q6: Why mail-in bags? 

These bags are designed specifically for the disposal of every kind of prescription medication, be it in pill, patch, or other form. While in-pharmacy medication disposal drop-boxes are the most logical place for consumers to dispose of medications, we have partnered with the disposal bag manufacturer for this pilot to assess the value of “priming the pump” with consumers – empowering immediate action. Where, recipients simply mail in their medication and their household is safe for the holidays. 


The Self-RX Disposal Envelope is designed to safely dispose of unused medications. The DEA-compliant service allows for the collection and disposal of pharmacy dispensed controlled substances (Schedules II-V) and non-controlled medications, meeting Federal requirements of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010.


Q7: Where does the medication go? 


Medications are shipped and destroyed safely with eco-friendly incineration. The process and volume are tracked and measured in compliance with DEA Regulations.


Q8: What is the immediate goal of this effort?


We want to elevate the conversation around unused medication and pressure pharmacies to install medication disposal drop-boxes in every pharmacy, in every American community.  While these ‘mail back’ bags promote immediate action on the part of recipients, point-of-sale drop-boxes are the most logical, economical and common-sense solution, nationwide. 


Q9: What is the long-term goal of this effort? 


Our long-term goal is to see local pharmacies install easy-to-access drop-off locations for medication, so that mailers like these aren’t necessary. In doing so, pharmacies will help prevent early addictive behaviors, while helping to keep expired and unused medications off our streets, out of our schools and out of the water supply. Getting rid of leftover medications should be as easy as picking them up in the first place.