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Missouri Board of Pharmacy opens applications for new drug take-back program to combat opioid crisis


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Board of Pharmacy has opened the application process for those wishing to participate in a new take-back program for unwanted prescription drugs — a program born out of a 2017 Senate bill aimed at combating the ongoing opioid epidemic.  

The RX Cares for Missouri Medication and Disposal Program has opened applications for law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and other clinics to collect and send the medication to a Texas-based waste management company under contract with the state. It set a suggested deadline of Oct. 1 so the board can anticipate funding needs for next year. 

Applicants must be a licensed Missouri pharmacy, hospital or clinic with an onsite pharmacy, narcotic treatment program, or a law enforcement agency, according to guidance from the Department of Commerce & Insurance

Once approved — done on a rolling basis — those involved with the pilot program will be given a collection receptacle, 12 inner liners, and prepaid shipping containers. It will be up to the participants to mail the collected drugs to Sharps Compliance Inc., for disposal. 

The Missouri Board of Pharmacy has agreed to pay for the disposal of up to 12 liners per participant but allows a continuation of the take-back program with Sharps at the expense of the entity. If the program is successful and continues, it could up that number with approval from the General Assembly. 

The program is open to a limited number of participants; officials said 100 participants would be a “rough estimate.”

“We take our role in combating the opioid crisis very seriously,” Kimberly Grinston, Missouri Board of Pharmacy executive director, said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to putting the RX Cares for Missouri Medication Destruction and Disposal Program into action and giving Missouri citizens a safe place to dispose of unwanted or unneeded medications.” 

Grinston also noted there are resources online for Missourians who wish to dispose of unwanted medication. 

“Unused medication is one of the biggest sources of drug abuse and access so we always encourage the public to destroy unused medication,” Grinston told The Missouri Times. 

Nearly 1,000 people died from overdoses involving opioids in Missouri in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse statistics. Missouri had a rate of 16.5 deaths per 100,000 people — higher than the national rate of 14.6 deaths. 

The program is a result of SB 139, championed by Republican Sen. David Sater and signed into law in 2017. It is funded until the end of this fiscal year. 

A pharmacist, Sater told The Missouri Times the program is “educational” so the public knows “pharmacies are willing and ready to help with all medicine needs concerning prescription drugs.” He said the program is a “small but needed step” to combat the opioid crisis.

While this program is new, Missouri has hosted prescription drug take-back days before, most recently in April and run through the Attorney General’s Office. 

“Opioid abuse and addiction have reached near epidemic levels in Missouri. Allowing Missourians to safely dispose of unwanted or unneeded prescription pills is a step in the right direction to quelling the opioid crisis,” Attorney General Eric Schmitt said then. 

He has also encouraged Missourians to share their stories and find resources through a website hosted by his office

Those wishing to participate in the RX Cares for Missouri program can apply online