MedStar Health Hospitals Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

MedStar Health Hospitals Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

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Community Invited to Drop off Unwanted Prescriptions at Five MedStar Health Locations

A pharmacist gives the thumbs up as she stands next to a drug disposal receptacle at MedStar Health.
(COLUMBIA, Md) – MedStar Health hospital pharmacies are participating in a national effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration to help people dispose of unwanted prescription drugs with National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Saturday October 23.

With 93,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States last year, a 30% increase from the previous year, this is an important effort aimed at reducing the chances of medications getting into the wrong hands. 

“We know from studies that when people abuse or overdose on prescription drugs, those medications were often acquired from either the home medicine cabinet, a friend or a family member,” says Bonnie Levin, PharmD, MBA, FASHP and Assistant Vice President of Pharmacy Services for MedStar Health.  “We hope this effort will help to address the drug overdose crisis which is a serious public health challenge in our communities.”

Hospital pharmacy drop off locations are open year-round but those that are open on Saturday Oct. 23 are:

  • MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, open 24/7 with a drive-through drop-off from 10am-2pm.
  • MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, open 24/7.
  • MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, 9am - 2pm.
  • MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, open 24/7.
  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center, 10am – 4pm outside the Physician’s Office Building (POB) Pharmacy.
  • MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital will hold a drive-through drop-off from 10am-2pm.

“People are invited to stop by and drop their unwanted prescription drugs in one of our DEA-approved receptacles.  They can do this safely and anonymously,” says Levin. “If this event prevents even one person from becoming addicted or one overdose in our community, we will consider this a great success.”

This effort coincides with National Pharmacy Week October 17-23.  Levin says National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is supported by pharmacists from around the MedStar Health system.  A MedStar pharmacist may be available at the take-back unit to talk with you about your medications.

“MedStar Health is strongly dedicated to patient safety. As pharmacy professionals we understand the seriousness and tragic consequences of opioid abuse and we’re committed to doing everything we can to raise awareness and prevent it from happening in our communities,” says Levin. 

Unwanted drugs could be stored in the medicine cabinets of surgical patients who were prescribed opioids for pain, cancer patients as well as families who recently lost a loved one who was prescribed pain medications.  Other medications, such as those that are expired or medications have been stopped by your doctor, can also be dropped off at the take-back units.

In addition to being an important patient safety issue, there are environmental benefits to the proper disposal of prescription and over-the-counter medications, which people often flush down the toilet.

“We know that small doses of certain medications are getting into our water supply, which because it’s a closed system, can never fully rid itself of these trace amounts,” says Levin. 

Take Back Day in April 2021 brought in 839,543 lbs. (420 Tons) of medication.

To find the DEA drop-off collection location closest to you, please visit the DEA website which provides a site locator by zip code.