Press Release

PhRMA Supports American Medicine Chest Challenge

PhRMA April 30, 2013

Washington, D.C. (October 4, 2010) — The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) announces today its founding sponsorship of the American Medicine Chest Challenge (AMCC).

The AMCC is a national drug disposal public health initiative created by advocacy groups, community coalitions, and private sponsors, and coordinated with local and state government. The program will allow patients to drop off expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs anonymously at designated sites nationwide. Local law enforcement officials will collect and destroy the unused prescription medicine in accordance with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations. The program also will educate consumers about proper medication disposal methods in the home and the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

American Medicine Chest Challenge Day, Saturday, November 13, 2010, is a voluntary effort with no costs associated for participants. For information about local sites accepting unused and expired medications, consumers can visit

The program’s “challenge” to parents and other caregivers will guide them through five simple steps to minimize the risk that medications may be abused or misused. The AMCC advises those who have medication stored in their home to:

1. Take inventory of prescription and over-the-counter medicine.
2. Lock or secure your medicine cabinet.
3. Dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired medicine in the home or at an American Medicine Chest Challenge disposal site.
4. Take all medicines exactly as prescribed.
5. Talk to children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

“When taken as directed, prescription medications can enhance and extend the lives of patients. Sometimes, however, medication can be left over or expire before it is used. In those instances, the safe disposal of medicine is a critical step in preventing prescription drug abuse,” said Jeff Bond, Senior Vice President for State Government Affairs at PhRMA. “With prescription drug abuse on the rise, it is important to have safe solutions for consumer disposal of unused medicines in their own home or through a community program in order to avoid the possibility that someone steals or misuses that medication.“

American Medicine Chest Challenge combines necessary law enforcement oversight with educational and grassroots community advocacy to create a voluntary program that is expected to help prevent prescription medicine diversion. Partner groups include PhRMA, Partnership for a Drug-Free AmericaAmerican College of Emergency PhysiciansNational Association of Chain Drug Stores, and Consumer Healthcare Products Association, among others. Unlike unsupervised, unregulated take back programs, the AMCC offers consumers a voluntary program with guidance on handling unused and expired medications.

PhRMA also partners with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the American Pharmacists Association on the SMARxT Disposal Program. This program informs people how to safely dispose of medicines in the trash, and notes the environmental risk posed by flushing medicines down the toilet. PhRMA recommends that all unused medicines, unless specified otherwise by the Food and Drug Administration, should be mixed with water; sealed in an opaque container safely secure from children, pets, and others; then discarded in household trash to be later incinerated or placed in a government approved solid waste landfill. Consumers may also take part in the AMCC community disposal sites as a way to safely dispose of medications in a way that prevents diversion or potential for abuse.

“America’s pharmaceutical companies have a long history of advocacy for consumer education on prescription drug abuse, and our support of programs like AMCC, SMARxT Disposal and DEA National Take Back Day are all part of that goal. Providing a free and simple solution for consumer disposal helps ensure that fewer unused and expired medications are available for prescription drug abuse,” said Bond. “Offering several voluntary options for safe disposal of unused and expired medications also makes the disposal process environmentally sound.”

PhRMA encourages patients to take their medicine as prescribed by their health care provider. Numerous studies have shown that when patients fail to take their medication exactly as prescribed by their health care provider, this can lead to poor clinical outcomes, higher health care costs, and lost productivity. If under a health care provider’s direction some prescriptions are not completely used, prompt and safe disposal of those unused medicines may reduce avoidable consequences and help reduce the prevalence of prescription drug abuse.

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 $50.3 billion in 2008 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $65.2 billion in 2008.

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