Survey on Drug Disposal Uncovers Surprising Patient Behaviors

A Teva Pharmaceuticals survey finds that more than half of adults improperly dispose of unused prescription medications.

With the Drug Enforcement Agency's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day taking place on April 28, Teva Pharmaceuticals announced interesting survey results they hope will inspire prescription medication users to act more responsibly when using and disposing of drugs. A leading global pharmaceutical company committed to providing consumers with access to high-quality healthcare by developing, producing and marketing affordable generic, innovative and specialty products, Teva shares that over half (57%) of adults[1] improperly dispose of their prescription medicines by simply throwing them in the trash (47%) and/or flushing them in the toilet (27%). In addition, the survey revealed that 35% of adults have prescription medicines in their home that they are not using, and only 6% keep prescription medicines in a locked box/cabinet.

The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Teva Pharmaceuticals from April 18-20, 2012—among 2,177 adults (aged 18 and older). Highlights from the survey include:
    Over half (57%) of adults dispose of their prescription medicines improperly
   57% of adults either disposed of their prescription medicines in the trash or flushed their prescription medicines in the toilet. Only 20% of adults dropped unwanted/unused/expired medicines at a local pharmacy retailer, a local waste management disposal program or during National Prescription Drug Take Back Days. Even more interesting, 83% of those who didn't currently dispose of their prescription medicine in a proper way[2] would be willing to dispose of their unused/expired prescription medicines at a pharmacy/retailer/local waste management disposal program/National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

  •    Over one third of adults still have prescription medicines that they are not using
  •     35% of adults said yes to having prescription medicines in their home that they are not using and 21% said yes to having prescription medicines in the home that were expired.
  •     88% of all prescription medicines are stored in a location readily accessible by almost anyone
  •     Only 6% of adults keep their prescription medicines locked in a box/cabinet while 50% said they stored their medicines in a bathroom (e.g., medicine cabinet, under the sink, on a shelf), 40% store them in the kitchen (e.g., cabinet, drawer table, pantry), 21% store them in the bedroom and 8% store them in a purse/bag.

"We need greater public awareness about the importance of properly disposing of prescription and over-the-counter medicines. That's why we are partnering with Teva and other companies to get that message out in our new campaign, 'Wake Up to Medicine Abuse'," said Sean Clarkin, EVP and Director of Strategy and Program at The Partnership at "Parents, in particular, need to be aware of what can happen under their own roof and play a more active role in safeguarding medications in their homes and disposing of expired or unused medicines."

During National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which takes place between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM on April 28, people can bring their unused/expired medicines to any number of participating locations throughout the United States.

There were 5,327 take-back sites that were available in all 50 states and U.S. territories for the 2011 National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. During that time, Americans turned in more than 377,086 pounds (188.5 tons) of unwanted or expired medications for safe and proper disposal, signaling the need for convenient ways to safely dispose of unused or expired prescription medicines. More information is available at National Take-Back Initiative.

"We know that there is a willingness from people to dispose of their prescription medicines the proper way, we just need to educate the public better," said Timothy Crew, SVP, Commercial Operations Officer at Teva Pharmaceuticals USA. "We hope that by sharing the results of this survey we can advance safer habits among more people."

Teva plans to expand the mission of its When Good Medicines Become Bad Drugs program to provide consumers with actionable information on preventing diversion, with a focus on proper disposal of prescription medicines. To learn more about Teva's When Good Medicines Become Bad Drugs program, please visit

Source: Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd.


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