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Leading Government and Advocacy Stakeholders Engage in Public Health Dialogue on Improving Disposal of Unused Medications

Drug Take-Back Network Launched by Product Stewardship Institute and King Pharmaceuticals

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) convened its secondNational Pharmaceuticals Dialogue Meeting earlier this week in Washington, DC to discuss ways to improve the disposal of unused medications to combat increasing rates of prescription drug abuse, accidental poisonings, and environmental contamination. The meeting, sponsored by King Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NYSE: KG), brought together more than 100 participants, including U.S. regulators from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), as well as state and local officials, industry groups, and advocacy organizations to share their expertise and insights on current legal and regulatory challenges facing drug disposal.

"As prescription drug abusers often obtain medications easily from the home of friends or family members, it is extremely important to address the safe and proper disposal of unused medication. King is committed to working together with leading stakeholders to come to a consensus on safe and effective drug disposal that will help to reduce the risk of drug abuse and environmental pollution in our communities," said Brian A. Markison, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of King Pharmaceuticals. "We are pleased to be partnering with PSI in this important endeavor to improve public health."

In conjunction with this week's meeting, PSI and King launched the Drug Take-Back Network that establishes a central resource for information on drug take-back impediments and existing programs to collect and dispose of unused medications in communities around the country. By promoting shared learning, the Drug Take-Back Network will advance strategies already underway to reduce drug abuse and accidental poisonings, and to improve water quality by offering consumers a safe option for disposing of their unused drugs.

"This week's meeting was an important opportunity to discuss the challenges inhibiting drug disposal and to brainstorm how to change the current legal and regulatory landscape to safely and cost-effectively implement take-back programs on a national scale," added Scott Cassel, Executive Director and Founder of PSI. "The launch of the Drug Take-Back Network is another vital component of PSI's national initiative to reduce the health and environmental impact of unused medications."

In addition to its leadership role with the Pharmaceuticals Dialogue Meeting, King recently commissioned Avalere Health, an advisory company focused on healthcare business strategy and public policy, to develop a white paper focused on the disposal of unused prescription drugs including opioids. The white paper, which was distributed to meeting participants, examines the current challenges facing drug disposal and the factors necessary to implement a successful disposal program that will reduce the incidence of drug abuse and diversion. The paper and other educational resources are available at, the Web site for the newly established Drug Take-Back Network.

Proper disposal of unused prescription drugs has become an important public health concern as rates of prescription drug abuse and diversion have increased. According to a recent study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), teens have easy access to prescription medications - 19% feel prescription drugs are easier to obtain than beer, citing common sources as friends, classmates, parents or their own home's medicine cabinet.(1) There is a lack of agreement on a recommended disposal method for unused pharmaceuticals. Federal guidelines suggest either take back or home garbage disposal for most medications, and flushing for a small number of controlled substances. By contrast, state agencies do not recommend flushing of any medications, and an increasing number of agencies promote the return of used medications at pharmacies or through a mail-back program. Meeting participants focused on reaching consensus about the implementation of sustainable programs to collect unused medications and efforts to increase public awareness about the issue.

Highlights from PSI's second Pharmaceuticals Dialogue Meeting included agreement on the need for all stakeholders involved to move forward to:

  • Increase public and health care provider education on the public health concerns regarding disposal of unused prescription drugs and the availability of disposal programs;
  • Continue efforts with policymakers to address laws and regulations governing controlled substances that currently impede implementation of comprehensive drug take-back programs;
  • Encourage EPA, FDA and ONDCP to revise the federal guidelines on drug disposal to discourage flushing of any drugs; and
  • Convene a leadership summit to focus on reducing the amount of unused pharmaceuticals.

The Pharmaceuticals Dialogue Meeting was the second in PSI's series of four national, multi-stakeholder dialogues on drug disposal issues. The first meeting was held in Sacramento, California in June 2008 and the next meeting is planned for June 2009.

About Product Stewardship Institute (PSI)

The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) is a national environmental institute located in Boston, Massachusetts. PSI works with state and local government agencies to partner with manufacturers, retailers, environmental groups, federal agencies, waste management firms, and other key stakeholders to reduce the health and environmental impacts of consumer products.

About King Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

King Pharmaceuticals, Inc., headquartered in Bristol, Tennessee, focuses on the development, growth and promotion of innovative and trusted medicines in specialty markets, including neuroscience, hospital and acute care. Dedicated to improving and protecting quality of life, King works to develop innovative, clinically-differentiated superior pharmaceutical products while operating in a socially responsible manner.

Download a copy of the Avalere Health white paper, Safe Disposal of Unused Controlled Substances: Current Challenges and Opportunities for Reform, at

(1) National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XIII: Teens and Parents.

SOURCE King Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Product Stewardship Institute
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