AAOA Survey: Most Consumers Keep Unused Opioid Prescriptions for Future Use

Poll Reveals Additional Consumer Education Needed Around Safe Storage and Disposal of Prescription Opioids

ARLINGTON, Va., April 13, 2018 — The vast majority of patients (89 percent) who keep their unused prescription opioids save them for future use, according to a national poll from Morning Consult and commissioned by Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA). This statistic highlights one of the persistent gaps in patient education and awareness around the safe use and disposal of prescription opioids — how to appropriately manage leftover pills.

AAOA is an educational initiative bringing together key partners in healthcare, public health and within the pharmaceutical supply chain to raise awareness about the rights, risks and responsibilities associated with prescription opioids. AAOA has developed resources and tools to educate patients and their families around the proactive steps they can take to ensure old or unused prescriptions do not end up in the wrong hands.

Additional highlights from the national poll, which surveyed more than 2,000 adults from February 16–18, 2018, include:

  • Approximately 62 percent said their healthcare provider or pharmacist has not talked to them about safe storage or disposal of prescription opioids.
  • Nearly 70 percent said they would be more likely to safely store prescription opioids after talking to a healthcare provider or pharmacist. The same percentage said they would be more likely to safely dispose of prescription opioids if they were given information on best practices.
  • Approximately 36 percent said they did not know they needed to dispose of leftover prescription opioids.
  • Nearly 30 percent said they did not know how to safely dispose of opioids, raising concerns about the likelihood of abuse or misuse by friends or family members.

“Pharmacists are on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic — working to educate patients around the proper use, storage and disposal of opioids every time they pick up or refill a prescription,” said Rebecca Snead, Executive Vice President and CEO, National Alliance for State Pharmacy Associations and AAOA member. “Helping patients and their families understand the rights, risks and responsibilities associated with prescription opioids is critical to ensuring that these medicines are being used as intended.”

Enhanced patient education plays a significant role in preventing the potential abuse and misuse of opioids. A key component of that education effort urges patients to store opioids in a safe place as well as disposing of unused or expired prescriptions as soon as possible.

Americans have the opportunity to safely dispose of unused prescription opioids as well as other medications at the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 28. For a full list of ongoing state and national disposal locations and programs, click here.

To read a summary of the poll results, click here. AAOA has put in place tools and resources to help address the opioid abuse epidemic by encouraging safe use, storage and disposal available here.

For all press inquiries, please contact Press@AgainstOpioidAbuse.org.

About Allied Against Opioid Abuse
Allied Against Opioid Abuse is a national education and awareness initiative to help prevent abuse and misuse of prescription opioids. Founded by the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, the initiative is a collaborative effort with diverse partners across the pharmaceutical supply chain, as well as organizations that are experts in public health and healthcare, including Alliance for Aging Research, American Physical Therapy Association, Caregiver Action Network, Healthcare Leadership Council, Mental Health America, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Council on Patient Information and Education and the PA Foundation. Our goal is to contribute to solving the opioid crisis in a meaningful way by educating patients about their rights, risks and responsibilities. To learn more, visit www.AgainstOpioidAbuse.org or follow us on Twitter: @AAOA_Tweets.