Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Should TakeAway be a give-away?

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.)

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?


Rich Hartmann said...

We have returnable deposit for soda containers. Why not a returnable deposit for unused prescription drugs!

Michael Hilding said...

I think an Rx return program of some sort is needed. However if it is "funded" by the state are we not paying for it anyway? I wonder at what point do we stop expecting "others" to pay. I guess the insurance companies could pay? No that just another way for "everyone" to pay and would be passed on through premium increases. The increase being more than the actual cost so it covers "administrative" costs. The reality is unless we are all willing to pay for our own return the cost to administer a program would more than double the cost. I think that's true regardless of it government, insurance or any other corporation footing the bill.

I would hope we are looking at ways to keep health care cost down not increasing them.

Michael Hilding said...

I found out something interesting in going through my parents Rxs. Almost all left overs were due to the fact the Dr. prescribed a 30 day regiment and after a week or two found out it wasn't working. They were then told to stop taking the meds and had 2-3 wks left. Another 30 day supply of something else was given. I wounder if this is true for most pts? If so it appears the real problem steams from the way Rxs are started.

Would taking the extra meds back to the Dr. that prescribed them be a simple solution. They have an avenue to dispose of medical waste already in place. If they feel they are getting too many Rxs turned in they could change the way they prescribe.