Do your clients know how to get rid of unused pet meds? Do you?

When you prescribe a medication for a patient, do you advise the client on the proper disposal of those meds?

Most veterinarians don’t.

A 2018 study by researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) found that 60% of veterinary care professionals surveyed don’t advise their clients when it comes to the proper disposalof pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). PPCPs include unused pet medications, flea and tick treatments, and medicated shampoos.

NEWStat asked Jennifer Lam, MS, the study’s corresponding author and a former graduate student in marine resource management at OSU, why more veterinarians weren’t discussing disposal of unused meds.

She says it’s just not an immediate concern on the part of the pet owner.

“Pet owners usually go to the veterinarian to get medication for the pet, so disposal of unused medication is usually not on their mind,” said Lam.

How can veterinarians get pet owners to start thinking about it?

“I think it is important to start changing the norm in the conversations between the veterinarian and pet owner,” Lam said. “So, in addition to telling [the owner] how they should give their pet the medication—how often, how much—also talk about what [they] should do with the unused or expired medication. Both the veterinarian and the pet owner can be more proactive in discussing and identifying solutions for proper disposal.”

Now’s a great time to start having those conversations.

Because this Saturday, April 27, is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, part of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s ongoing efforts to encourage the safe disposal of unwanted drugs.

And it’s not just for clients—practices can use Take-Back Day to safely get rid of unwanted or unused prescription drugs in the hospital.

Disposal options for you and your clients include: authorized take-back events such as the one this Saturday, mail-back programs, and collection-receptacle locations. The DEA set up an online locator to help people find collection sites nearby.

According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, six million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

“Proper disposal of unused and expired medication (pet or human) can not only help protect our ecological environment but also prevent misuse, abuse, and accidental poisoning in our communities,” Lam said.

Whatever you do, just don’t throw them in the toilet.

Photo credit: © iStock/Bumblee_Dee

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