New Drug Deactivation System Allows Patients to Safely Dispose of Opioids at Home

A new technology allows patients to safely dispose of unwanted or expired prescription painkillers at home. Hooshang Shanehsaz, RPh, DPH, Director of Pharmacy at Cardinal Health, who co-directed a pilot study of the drug deactivation system, says patients found it easy to use.

A person using the Deterra® Drug Deactivation System simply puts their medication in a bag containing a carbon that bonds to pharmaceutical compounds when water is added. The person adds water and shakes it up to neutralize the active ingredient in the drug, explains Dr. Shanehsaz, who is Vice President of the Delaware Board of Pharmacy. The biodegradable bag can then be placed into the trash.

In the past, pharmacists have told patients to dispose of unused or expired medications by putting them in cat litter, sawdust or used coffee grounds. These materials absorb some of the medication, but much of it still remains and can still be dug out of the garbage and abused, Dr. Shanehsaz says. These materials only absorb between 15 to 23 percent of the medications, he added.

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