Deterra icon banner graphic

A better, in-home alternative to drug take-back programs

This is the time of year when take-back programs or days are announced all across the country. There’s a new understanding that old guidelines that urged people to simply flush or throw away their unused medications are no longer the best recommendation, because of the effect on the environment and concerns about drug abuse and safety. Because of these shifting guidelines, drug take-back programs are gaining popularity, but they are not without drawbacks as well.


They’re Expensive

Recent DEA funding cuts have left some communities with no option but to shut down their take-back programs. Those that have been able to continue without federal support are faced with high costs of maintaining and promoting the programs.


There’s also a growing concern that mandatory take-back programs will cause prescription prices to skyrocket. Alameda County in California is requiring that pharmaceutical companies that sell products in the county establish and fund a local drug take-back program, and many other communities are taking similar legislative action. But new data from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association shows that a majority of Americans have no interest in mandatory take-back programs due to the increased health care costs. According to the study, 80 percent of respondents said consumers should learn to properly dispose of medicines at home to “prevent the costs all of us would have to pay as a result of mandatory drug take-back programs.”


They’re Inconvenient

Once someone removes prescription drugs from their medicine cabinet, there is a period of time until it’s convenient for them to bring the medications to the drop off location, when it’s open. This amount of time can vary from person to person. And for take-back programs that occur on one specific day or weekend of the year, the timeframe is extremely limited for people to participate. With either scenario, there is no doubt an inconvenience factor that goes hand in hand with drug take-back programs.


They’re Only Somewhat Effective

A study from Wake Forest University examining the effectiveness of take-back programs found that only about 5% of the collection from take-back events and drop boxes consisted of controlled medications susceptible to abuse. In addition, the researchers found that less than 1% of dispensed controlled medications were collected by the disposal programs.


The takeaway? The research makes it clear that improved in-home disposal efforts are needed in communities across the country. Communities such as Minnesota’s Eden Prairie and Saint Louis Park are now offering a cost-effective, convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to take-back programs by providing Deterra to the community. For example, the Eden Prairie Police and Fire Departments give away Deterra disposal pouches to the community to help them safely dispose of unwanted medications – and keep drugs out of the hands of youth and those addicted to prescription medications. In fact, they carry Deterra disposal pouches with them everywhere they go. They have chosen Deterra instead of prescription drug take-back boxes due to the effectiveness, safety, convenience, ease of use and lower cost of Deterra. From law enforcement’s perspective, take-back programs are expensive because drugs need to be inventoried, treated like hazardous waste and boxes must be guarded at all times due to the potential for theft. Eden Prairie Police Chief Rob Reynolds believes that Deterra has the potential to curb prescription drug abuse across the country.


For more information or to bring Deterra to your community, contact or call 612-568-1128.