Press Release

PhRMA Statement on Combating Prescription Drug Abuse

PhRMA April 29, 2013

Washington, D.C. (April 14, 2011) —The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) joins many other concerned stakeholders who remain steadfast in their fight against prescription drug misuse and abuse. An increasingly prevalent problem, PhRMA strongly supports various efforts and programs to prevent prescription drug diversion and promote the secure disposal of unused and expired prescription medication.

PhRMA has worked with a number of partners to increase awareness of this issue and recognizes the need for broad stakeholder engagement with federal and state governments and relevant health care and law enforcement organizations to develop solutions. We support efforts to protect against diversion of controlled substances, appropriate use of medication and medication adherence, secure and responsible storage of prescription medicines and the prompt and safe disposal of any unused medicines.

Prescription medicines, when used as prescribed, are critical to improving and extending patient health. However, when misused or abused they can be dangerous and even deadly. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than half of those who abuse prescription drugs, obtaining them from a relative or friend.

“Consumer education can have a significant impact in helping to inform the public and reducing the overall rates of prescription drug abuse,” said PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani. “We’ve developed three key messages as part of our educational efforts on this important issue: First, people should take mediation as prescribed by their physician or health care practitioner; Second, consumers should store medicines in a safe manner and not share them; and finally, it’s important to promptly dispose of any unused medicines in a safe manner, such as through household trash or an appropriate take- back program.”

PhRMA has taken an active role in efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse and promote safe disposal of unused medicines. For instance:

  • PhRMA views increasing awareness and education as fundamental to the prevention of prescription drug abuse, and has worked collaboratively with D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) and law enforcement officials to develop a school curriculum to prevent abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
  • PhRMA is a key partner with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the American Pharmacists Association on the SMARxT Disposal Program (, which informs people how to safely dispose of medicines in their household trash, to virtually eliminate any environmental risk posed from flushing medicines down the toilet. To safely dispose of unused medicines, unless specified otherwise by the Food and Drug Administration, mix them with water, and any material that mixes with the medication to make it less appealing to pets and children (e.g., kitty litter), secure and seal in an opaque container, and discard in household trash to be later incinerated or placed in a government approved solid waste landfill.
  • PhRMA has supported a number of efforts related to the disposal of unused medicines, including increasing awareness of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Take Back Day, to be held on Saturday, April 30, 2011. This program allows patients to drop off expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs – which will be collected and destroyed by local law enforcement officials – at designated sites nationwide. For more information, go to or to find available community resources and participating locations.
  • PhRMA has supported the American Medicine Chest Challenge (AMCC), a community-based public health initiative to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse, which recently held a nationwide drug disposal day in communities across the country.

In addition, PhRMA member companies have actively engaged in a broad range of efforts designed to promote appropriate use of prescription medicines and safe disposal of unused medicines, including prescription drug monitoring programs, supporting treatment referral databases, and developing educational materials health care practitioners and law enforcement as tools for professionals to recognize potential signs of prescription drug abuse.

America’s biopharmaceutical research sector will continue to actively work with all relevant stakeholders to support educational efforts on the appropriate use of medicines with the goal of helping to prevent the abuse and misuse of medicines and to promote safe disposal practices.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $49.4 billion in 2010 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $67.4 billion in 2010.

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