I came upon this tent display in my local CVS last night, and it left me wondering. I like the idea of giving people a mailer with which to dispose of unused medicine. After all, it is good to have substances like antibiotics not enter the ecosystem. And as noted here, unused and expired drugs pile up in home medicine cabinets, which increase the likelihood for teenagers, elderly, pets, or others to misuse or abuse them.
But are people willing to pay an extra $4 for the privilege? (Walgreen's also charges the same.)
In Iowa, there is no charge to consumers:
Iowa’s TakeAway program has been funded by the state, approved by the legislature in 2009 and 2010. Through these funds pharmacies receive TakeAway systems at no charge and patients can return unused medications free of charge. Each year, the Iowa Pharmacy Association, seeks to find an ongoing funding source, such that Iowans can continue to properly dispose of unused medications.
It looks like it is offered free of charge in Texas, also. And some cities offer it, also. Look at this program in Cathedral City, CA:
In Arizona it is apparently a mixed bag:
Some participating pharmacies also sell TakeAway envelopes, pre-addressed, pre-postage paid large envelopes that can be taken into the home, filled with unused and expired medicine, and mailed through the United States Postal Service to the disposal facility.
The concept seems to be the brainchild of Sharps Compliance, Inc. According to this site, the purchase price for the display and 25 envelopes is $99.75, so it doesn't look like CVS and Walgreen's are really making any money on the proposition.
It is curious, though, that it is viewed as a loss-leader elsewhere and not here in Massachusetts. I wonder how those decisions are made? Has anyone studied consumer participation under the "free" versus "paying" models?