Sending Office: Bonamici, Suzanne
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The Safe Disposal of Opioids Act

Facilitating Responsible and Effective Disposal of Unwanted Prescription Medications

Deadline for Original Cosponsors: Monday, June 3rd

Dear Colleague,

Millions of Americans misuse prescription drugs each month, with tens of thousands dying every year from causes related to opioid abuse. Many people become addicted to opioids after receiving a prescription to treat pain from an injury or following a surgery.
But approximately one out of every three prescribed medications is unused, and
six in ten patients have leftover pills
. It’s not surprising that more than 75 percent of people who become dependent on opioids report they first started with pills they got from a friend or family member.  

Many people have unused medications at home that can fall into the hands of children, family members, or friends. Unfortunately, families often don’t know where or how to safely dispose of unused pills.
More than 80 percent of people with prescriptions did not receive information on how or where to dispose of unwanted medication, and fewer than fourteen percent of people with leftover prescriptions
reported using “takeback” programs to safely get rid of medication.

Pharmacies and hospitals are currently authorized to make disposal services available to the public, but few actually offer them. A
2017 study by the Government Accountability Office found that less than 2.5 percent of pharmacies, hospitals, and other eligible entities participate
in prescription disposal programs, and that the cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining disposal bins all pose major barriers to participation.

The Safe Disposal of Opioids Act would:

  • Create a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) grant program that helps qualified settings acquire and maintain drug disposal bins;
  • Prioritize placing bins in community pharmacies and other health care settings where patients receive medication;
  • Cover the cost of disposal bins by levying a very small fee (one cent per 100 milligrams) on opioids sold by pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The bill also includes a rebate program to make sure these costs are not passed along to patients who rely on opioid medications for pain management. Overall, the revenue created by this proposal would provide enough funding to implement and service approximately
10,000 disposal sites.

This legislation will make drug disposal options more accessible in communities across the nation. By helping families discard unwanted prescription medications, we can prevent drug diversion that leads to substance abuse and addiction, saving lives.

For more information, or to cosponsor the bill, please contact Jack Arriaga ( or 202.225.0855).



Suzanne Bonamici

Member of Congress 

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