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Patients Who Receive Information About the Importance of Safe Disposal Are Three Times More Likely to Dispose of Unused Prescription Opioid Medications

Feb 20, 2019 | News

Survey study sponsored by Purdue Pharma and published in the Journal of Pain Research examines factors that contribute to the safe disposal of opioids

STAMFORD, Conn., February 20, 2019 — Purdue Pharma L.P. today announced the publication of a survey study that found one-third of patients disposed of their unused opioid medication, and those who received education about the importance of safe disposal were approximately three times more likely to do so. The survey study, which was undertaken to inform the design of future drug take-back programs by gaining a better understanding of drivers of drug disposal behavior, was sponsored by Purdue and recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Pain Research.1

The findings of this survey study highlight the importance of effective drug take-back programs in helping prevent prescription opioid diversion,” said Daniel Buffington, PharmD, MBA, president & practice director, Clinical Pharmacology Services and lead study author. “We believe these data offer valuable and actionable insights that have the potential to drive marked improvements in safe disposal practices.”

The cross-sectional survey study was conducted from September 2016 to October 2016 and assessed the self-reported behaviors, drivers, and barriers of the disposal of unused opioid medication among 152 respondents. All survey study participants had a history of acute or chronic pain, had been treated with prescription opioid medication within the preceding two years, and had unused opioid medication.

Purdue is pleased to support and participate in this important research that shows a clear need to continue patient education and increase awareness of proper opioid medication disposal methods,” said Thomas Alfieri, PhD, director, Medical Affairs Strategic Research, Purdue Pharma and study co-author. “By identifying potential areas for education and improvement in drug take-back programs, efforts may be made to increase patients’ utilization of them, which may help to reduce the incidence of opioid misuse and accidental poisoning.”

Survey questions addressed history of disposing of unused opioid medication, motivations for disposing of or keeping leftover opioid medication, beliefs about incentives used to promote safe disposal, and barriers to using medication take-back programs.

Overall, 33 percent (n=50) of surveyed patients reported that they disposed of their unused opioid medication. However, patients who received information about the importance of and methods for appropriate medication disposal were almost three times more likely to report disposing of unused opioid medication compared to those who did not receive such information. The most frequently reported methods for disposal were via a drug disposal kiosk or other local take-back program (50 percent; n=25) and flushing the medication down the toilet (26 percent; n=13).

Forty percent (n=60) of patients reported they received information about the importance of properly disposing of unused opioid medication, and a similar proportion of patients (36.2 percent) reported that they received information about appropriate methods for disposing of unused medication.

Patients who disposed of unused opioids reported doing so as part of a routine practice of disposing of all excess medication, an awareness of the risks posed by unused opioids, or with instruction from a trusted healthcare provider. For patients who kept their unused opioid medication, the greatest influencing factor was a desire to have the medication on-hand should they need it in the future.

Selection bias, resulting from the use of a research panel and the limited demographic data collected, is inherent in this survey study, and the respondents may not be representative of all patients who have unused opioid medication. Additionally, the validity of the data collected relied on the accuracy of self-reporting, and the nature of the survey questions may have resulted in respondents feeling pressure to respond in a way reflecting socially desirable behavior. Additional research and analysis would provide additional insights regarding effective patient motivation factors surrounding opioid disposal.

Purdue supports the responsible use and disposal of all prescription medications, including opioids. For additional information, please visit https://​www​.purduepharma​.com/​p​a​t​i​e​n​t​s​-​c​a​r​e​g​i​v​e​r​s​/​r​e​s​p​o​n​s​i​b​l​e​-​u​s​e​-​o​f​-​o​p​i​oids/.

About Purdue Pharma L.P.

Purdue Pharma and its subsidiaries develop and provide prescription medicines that meet the evolving needs of healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers. We were founded by physicians and are currently led by a physician. Beyond our efforts to provide quality medications, Purdue Pharma is committed to supporting national, regional and local collaborations to drive innovations in patient care while also continuing our efforts to address the opioid crisis.

Purdue established Imbrium Therapeutics to further advance its emerging portfolio and develop its pipeline in the areas of CNS, non-opioid pain medicines, and select oncology through internal research, strategic collaborations and partnerships. Other Purdue subsidiaries include Greenfield Bioventures. For more information, please visit www​.purduepharma​.com.

Buffington DE, et al. Understanding factors that contribute to the disposal of unused opioid medication. Journal of Pain Research. 2019;(12):1–8.


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