Why do we need a Prescription Drug Drop off Day?

Why do we need a Prescription Drug Drop Off Day?

I believe that is the real question that should be asked. Why is there a need for people to empty their medicine cabinets once a year and turn over thousands of unused prescription medications?

Could it be that physicians are over prescribing or prescribing unnecessary medications to their patients? Why are there so many unused drugs lying around? Why isn’t anyone asking this seemingly obvious question?

Prescription Drug drop off day originated as a response to the epidemic of opioid use and abuse. Opioids are synthetic heroin, are highly addictive and are a very powerful and dangerous painkiller. Used in the right circumstance, they are an effective treatment, but if prescribed for the wrong condition or abused can have dangerous consequences.

Like most ideas, it began with good intentions. We had an epidemic which required an immediate response. Let’s see, what is a cheap way to quell the public outrage of an epidemic originating from the health care system? Have patients voluntarily turn in their unused medications at pharmacies across the country. Provide the media with glowing success stories with statistics of the thousands of prescription pills turned in and destroyed.

Is this going to make a meaningful impact on the illicit drug trade or prevent doctors from over prescribing? No. The rx drug dealers or people who are opioid dependent from a legitimate prescription will not be turning over their meds. We should also take into account the millions of dollars our Pharmacare system paid for all those unused medications that will be incinerated. If a patient has been prescribed only what they need, why are there so many pills left over?

Prescription drug drop off day does help public safety but it also gives some stakeholders an opportunity for some nice photo ops, good spin and press coverage. It also distracts the public from the real issue; over prescribed and unnecessarily prescribed medications are being diverted from patients to an illicit market and legitimate pain patients who should have never been exposed to opioids are now dependent. This all began with an M.D.’s prescription pad.

Prescription drug drop off day is a good reminder that people should dispose of old medications for the safety of themselves and their loved ones. It can prevent medication getting into the wrong hands but it also sends the message that the epidemic is being fueled by forgetful patients and teenagers stealing their parent’s medications. This is simply untrue, but this is what some stakeholders want the public to believe. It once again takes the accountability away from government and doctors and puts it on the patient.


Rob Mulloy
Retired RCMP
Enforcement Consultant , GPDOTS

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