Safe and convenient disposal of unused medication – particularly opioids – is an important aspect of fighting the raging opioid epidemic. Follow observation of high search rates for the the terms “medication disposal near me,” Google, a longtime CSIP partner, has taken strides to make its work during last year’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, a more permanent fixture of its technology services. The API that it launched last year to help people find nearby locations to dispose of medications is now a permanent fixture to Google maps and search. This pilot effort is possible through Google partnering with pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens, as well as state governments, and the US. Drug Enforcement Administration to get the detailed location data it needs to share with consumers.
Last year’s Take Back Day brought in 1.85 million pounds of unused prescription drugs. The next event is planned for April 2019, but the hope is that this can become a year-round activity through Google’s permanent changes to its search function for this topic. The importance of safe disposal of leftover prescription medication cannot be overlooked. According to a recent blog in Health IT Analytics that highlighted data from the journal Pediatrics, children are at risk given that “opioids are stored safely in only 11.7 percent of households with older children.”
In its blog highlighting its work with Take Back Day, the Google Earth outreach team shares four reasons why safe disposal matters: it keeps medicine from entering the physical environment and harming fish and wildlife, it protects children and teens from accidental and recreational use, and it protects the overall population from the health risks of sharing medication that is not prescribed to them, and is likely expired.
CSIP and partners work tirelessly to build and maintain mechanisms to protect consumers from harmful medication purchase and use. MedicineSafe, a collaboration with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, is a great resource for state and local governments and partners to share resources on this topic.
About the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by the White House, represents the technology sector and commerce intermediaries including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Oath, UPS, PayPal, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and .Health. CSIP’s mission is to promote industry best practices as it relates to illegal online pharmacies, and educating consumers about safe purchasing of prescription drugs.