Rite Aid Offers Rx Disposal Program 

Discussion
Mar 16, 2011
George Anderson

Concern in recent years has built
up around the amount of prescription
and over-the-counter drugs found
in drinking water with many states
and communities now offering occasional
programs for consumers to drop
off unwanted medications. The second
annual National Prescription Drug
Take-Back Day is on April 30 this
year.

A new program by Rite Aid seeks to make it easier for consumers to dispose
of unwanted medications year-round. The drugstore chain has envelopes available
in stores where consumers can place drugs to be sent to an approved incinerator
where law enforcement officials oversee disposal. The cost of envelopes runs
$3.99.

"For years, Rite Aid has participated in community medication take-back
events organized by local health officials and law enforcement agencies," Dan
Miller, senior vice president of pharmacy at Rite Aid, said in a press release. "Our
customers often ask how to dispose of medication. By making these envelopes
available in our stores, we’re offering an easy and safe disposal solution
for customers looking to safely dispose of expired, unused or unwanted medications."

Discussion Questions: Are drug disposal programs something that consumers want? Will they be willing to pay to participate?

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12 Comments on "Rite Aid Offers Rx Disposal Program "


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Max Goldberg
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Drug disposal programs are a good idea, but in order to maximize effectiveness, they need to be free. This could be a good opportunity for a pharmacy to create a great promotion: buy your new drugs here and we’ll dispose of your old ones for free.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
10 years 1 month ago

Based on an unscientific survey of what is thrown out with the trash in my neighborhood vs. recycled (don’t worry, I’m only looking at plainly visible stuff), I have come to the conclusion that recycling programs of any kind need to be free and easy. Many folks are unwilling to even flatten cardboard boxes or rinse off plastic containers, so I doubt very much they will be willing to take their unused medications to Rite Aid, pay $3.99 for an envelope, and mail them off to be properly disposed of.

Nice idea, but it needs to be easier for many.

David Biernbaum
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Drug disposal programs will be under-appreciated until a larger consumer base becomes aware of the problems.

Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 1 month ago

Nothing is more annoying than having to rifle through expired meds in a drawer or medicine cabinet to find what you’re looking for. Free recycling might not have a direct ROI, but certainly would deliver “soft” benefits of added customer convenience, recognition for providing a community service, etc.

Ben Ball
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

The fundamental idea here is the need to make recycling of all sorts easy. I was coincidentally involved in a coffee conversation this morning with an associate who just discovered he is supposed to take CFL light bulbs “to an approved recycling station” rather than throw them out with the trash. “Happy” is not a word I would use to describe the conversation.

Clearly there are benefits to society from recycling, CFLs, keeping electronics out of land fills and keeping old medications out of our ground water. But the motivational economics are the same as those we have discussed many times regarding consumers willingness to pay for “green” or “organic.” Some people value these things enough to pay a premium–either in dollars or effort–to use/do them. If we want most people to use/do something, we need to make it cost (effort) neutral. If we really want to change society’s behavior as a whole we can either make it a cost/effort advantage–or we can legislate it.

James Tenser
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

The chances that consumers will go to the store and pay $3.99 to dispose of leftover meds by mail are close to zero, in my opinion. Flushing is too much easier and quicker, and few folks are aware that prescription drugs are percolating into the groundwater supply.

Instead, how about free envelopes that can be sealed in the pharmacy and left in a locked drop box for pickup by a bonded service? If outfitted with a prominent sign that promotes responsible disposal, Rx customers might just learn to make the environmentally responsible choice.

The much tougher question: How can this service pay for itself? My vote would be ad revenues from big pharma.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

I agree with Max. The idea is a good one. But there should not be a fee attached to it. What’s the need for a charge? Sometimes service does not mean cost.

Joan Treistman
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

I think that Rite Aid is to be commended for this program. It makes all of us safer by preventing prescription and other products from absorption into our drinking water. It also raises awareness regarding the appropriate handling of medications and hopefully, compliance.

Too many people are not consuming their medication properly. Whatever can be done to shine a light on the need to follow instructions for consumption and expiration is well done.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Business should not look at everything as it has to pay for itself directly. The benefit of doing something for the good of the community without looking for that immediate return often creates greater return.

Yes; this is a not only a good idea but a great idea.

Liz Crawford
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

A good idea…but I believe that a bigger contributing factor to prescriptions seeping into the water supply and environment is sewage and waste streams. This is partly why freshwater fish are subjected to birth control hormones.

The take-back program is a PR initiative. A good one. But not a real game-changer in the environment, I believe.

Mark Burr
Guest
10 years 1 month ago

Unless it was $3.99 and a coupon for $3.99 off your next prescription, its a nice idea (sort of) but doesn’t really light the incinerator.

Let’s see, $3.99, a trip to Rite Aid at $3.99 a gallon or flush, or even right into the trash. Nice idea. Next?

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
10 years 1 month ago

Consumers aren’t clamoring for drug disposal programs. But like various environmental issues, it’s another area where consumers may lack the necessary info needed to make a positive change. With appropriate messaging about the dangers of dumping unused drugs into the environment or of potentially having them fall into the wrong hands, this program could be another step in helping consumers change their behaviors for the better.

That said, the $3.99 cost for the envelope is a problem. I’d rather have seen Rite Aid be more creative by rewarding the consumer for participating in the take-back program. For instance, rather than the fee, offer additional loyalty points or a discount coupon, simply give the consumer a take-back envelope with each prescription, or have a drug manufacturer underwrite the envelope costs.

It may seem small, but $3.99 is about the price of a gallon of gasoline. I’m thinking some consumers will see the cost as a disincentive in what would otherwise be a convenient and well-meaning program.

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