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Presentation: 5:59

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Intro: Permanent medication take-back boxes facilitate the disposal of unwanted medications. These take-back boxes are part of an effort by the Drug Enforcement Administration to reduce potential medication misuse and abuse. Pharmacists are the last health care professionals to have contact with a patient before prescription medication enters the home and are therefore uniquely positioned to provide disposal education to patients.

Methods: Between December 2021 and February 2022, pharmacists working in Philadelphia, PA USA pharmacy locations both with and without medication take-back boxes participated in in-depth interviews. Interviews addressed benefits and drawbacks of medication take-back boxes, patient education, tasks involved in maintaining the box, and potential improvements to medication collection. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The study employed content analysis to identify themes related to barriers and facilitators to the use of medication take back boxes.

Results: A total of 13 interviews were included in the analysis. The perceived benefits of medication take-back boxes included improved safety, environmental protection, customer convenience, pharmacist convenience, gaining new customers, and educational opportunities. The perceived drawbacks included that not all medications can be collected, a lack of public knowledge, cost, increased liability, limited capacity, extra work, difficulty with setup, and customer inconvenience. Participants reported that medication disposal training occurs through word of mouth and corporate educational modules. Independent and hospital pharmacists indicated more feelings of community stewardship than pharmacists at chain locations.

Conclusions: Pharmacist perceptions of take-back boxes are complex and deserve investigation as a step towards improving the process of medication disposal.