HCN News & Notes

AMA Offers Guidance on Safe Storage, Disposal of Opioids

CHICAGO — The American Medical Association (AMA) Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse released today new recommendations for physicians to promote safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription opioids. These new recommendations are part of the task force’s ongoing efforts to empower and enable physicians to take steps that can help reverse the nation’s opioid epidemic.

“These new recommendations can further reduce the amount of unwanted, unused and expired medications — making their diversion to nonmedical use much less likely,” said Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, chair of the AMA Board of Trustees and chair of the Task Force. “By taking these important steps, physicians can communicate common-sense approaches to their patients that can directly reduce the potential for harm.”

The release of the task force’s recommendations coincides with the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day — on April 29 — that aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs. The recommendations are:

  • Physicians should talk with their patients about the safe use and storage of prescription opioids. More than 70{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of people misusing opioids are getting them from family and friends. Diversion of these drugs is illegal and may be deadly;
  • Physicians should remind their patients to store medicines so children can’t reach them and others would have difficulty finding or stealing them; and
  • Physicians should urge their patients to safely dispose of expired, unwanted and unused medications. Patients should take advantage of local ‘take back’ programs, mail back programs and medication drop boxes at police stations and pharmacies.

The new recommendation can be downloaded at www.ama-assn.org/opioids-disposal.