Working Together to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse and Overdose Deaths

Safe Drug Disposal Action Team

Leads:  Vanessa Olivas & Dean Zulcic 

Key Objective 8:
Support convenient, safe, and environmentally responsible prescription drug disposal programs in Los Angeles County that are free to the public to help decrease the supply of unused prescription drugs in homes and the community

Nearly 70% of people who have used prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes reported obtaining them from family, relatives, or friends. The safe disposal of these unused prescription drugs can be challenging due to limited disposal options. However, it is important to safely remove unused prescription drugs from communities in order to reduce the likelihood of misuse and diversion.

Nationally, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sponsors “Drug Take-Back” events in an effort to remove potentially dangerous drugs from the community, thereby decreasing access for either diversion and/or inappropriate use. Events are coordinated locally, with police stations and other community organizations serving as drop-off points.

In Los Angeles County, the Sheriff’s Department also collaborates with the Departments of Public Works and Public Health to oversee monthly take-back events that allow residents to safely drop off unused or expired prescription drugs and other controlled substances at Sheriff stations from across the County. Additionally, the Department of Public Works oversees the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program, which includes permanent collection centers and mobile events across the County, whereby residents are able to dispose of HHW, including unused/expired non-controlled substances.  In spite of these efforts, it is clear that the available options for safely disposing of prescription drugs is insufficient to meet community needs.

The Safe Drug Disposal Action Team will:

  • Support the efforts of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Working Group in the development and implementation of an EPR ordinance in which pharmaceutical manufacturers and producers would develop and fund take-back programs for their products that are reasonably convenient and adequately meet the needs of the population being served. These efforts include increasing awareness of that Working Group, providing relevant data, and encouraging participation in the development of the ordinance from cities, community groups, and other stakeholders.
  • Engage strategic partners, such as pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers, in discussions around implementing safe, convenient, and environmentally responsible drug disposal programs.
  • Explore opportunities to promote and expand the number of drug drop-off locations in Los Angeles communities.  

SMART Goals:

-  Educate 100% of pharmacies in Los Angeles County about the Pharmaceutical Drugs and Sharps Collection and Disposal Stewardship

   Ordinance, and attain a 10% voluntary participation rate by 2020.

-  Collect an annual average of 25,000 lbs of pharmaceutical drugs and sharps via County events and locations by 2020.

-  Collect an annual average of 100,000 lbs of pharmaceutical drugs and sharps via industry-funded collection bins housed in participating

   pharmacies and from mail-back services by 2020.

Safe Drug Disposal Action Team
Priority Area IV:
Safe Drug Disposal