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There is now a safer way to dispose of unused opioid painkillers

Covered results of the JAMA study

If you have ever been prescribed a powerful opioid painkiller after surgery or an injury, you may have wondered how to safely dispose of leftover pills. You can’t really flush them down the drain because sewage treatment plants don’t remove those chemicals. That puts them into the water supply. Putting them in the trash can put drugs into unauthorized hands. But you can’t just leave them in the medicine cabinet either, especially if there are at-risk people in your home. There are authorized locations where you can take them, but that’s inconvenient for many people.


So a recent study divided 208 people who had received opioid prescriptions into groups. Some received no drug disposal information, some received an educational brochure explaining the need for proper disposal; and the final group was given a special bag called “Deterra.” These bags contain charcoal that binds to prescription drugs when water is added, rendering them useless. The bags break down in the landfill, keeping drugs from harming the environment.