Partnership Receives Funding to Facilitate, Promote Safe Drug Disposal

CINCINNATI—To support efforts to help Ohioans dispose of their medications properly, Ohio’s SafeRx Collaborative recently received a $250,000 grant from Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services. The funds are designated for the purchase of more than 60,000 drug disposal pouches, along with education and evaluation of the program. Combined, these efforts will allow for the safe removal of more than 2 million pills from Ohio homes.

Ohio’s SafeRx Collaborative, formed in 2018, includes the following partners: Ohio’s SPF Rx Initiative, Prevention Action Alliance, Summit County Community Partnership and InterAct for Change.

“There are three steps to using prescription medications safely,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of InterAct for Change. “First, monitor your medications and take regular inventory of them. Second, store them in a safe, locked place. Third, dispose of them properly. This grant project will target that third step.”

The Deterra drug disposal pouches will be distributed throughout Ohio. Each pouch contains a water-soluble carbon compound. When water is added, the carbon activates and breaks down the components of the medications. Pouches can dispose of up to 45 pills or six patches and are safe for use on opioid medications. They are made from biodegradable materials and thus can be put out with household trash.

In addition to providing the 60,000 drug disposal pouches and evaluating their use throughout Ohio, members of Ohio’s SafeRx Collaborative will coordinate efforts to educate Ohioans about safe drug disposal through the website and other means. Partnerships with local community organizations, including county substance abuse prevention coalitions, the Ohio Department of Aging, local senior citizens groups, medical providers and school-based health centers will be key in both the distribution of the pouches and educational efforts. Bags will be distributed throughout 2019.

In 2017, the average Ohioan filled 14.8 prescriptions at a retail pharmacy, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s State Health Facts. Many of these were opioids, which are particularly important to dispose of safely because they are more likely to lead to overdose or illicit use. In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, 8.3 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed to Ohioans, according to data from the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARS). This number excludes opioids used for substance abuse treatment.

“Oftentimes, our old prescription medications are kept out of sight and out of mind,” said Tessa Miracle, SafeRx Evaluator. “By removing those medications that are unwanted, expired or unused, we can protect our friends and family from accidental or intentional misuse, and we can reduce the likelihood that these drugs will enter our environment.”

In addition to using the drug disposal pouches provided through this grant, Ohioans can also safely dispose of medications via prescription drug drop boxes. More than 500 are located throughout the state, with many in local police stations or pharmacies. To find a prescription drug disposal location near you or to request a prescription drug disposal bag, visit For more information about Ohio’s SafeRx Collaborative, please contact Tessa Miracle at