TUESDAY, Dec. 31, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Fewer than half of California pharmacies provide correct information about disposal of antibiotics and opioids, and few report take-back programs, according to a research letter published online Dec. 31 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Rachel E. Selekman, M.D., from the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., and colleagues examined the information California pharmacies provide about proper disposal of unused antibiotics and opioids. Four male and two female callers administered a survey following a written script to pharmacies, inquiring as a parent with leftover antibiotics and opioids from their child’s surgery. A total of 898 pharmacies responded.

The researchers found that 47 percent of the pharmacies provided correct antibiotic and 19 percent provided correct opioid disposal information; 29 percent provided correct information for both. Correct information for antibiotics was provided on a weekday and weekend call 49 and 15 percent of the time, respectively. Correct information for opioids was provided 20 and 7 percent of the time on a weekday and weekend call, respectively. Eleven percent of the pharmacies reported a program for antibiotic disposal and 11 percent reported a program for opioid disposal when directly queried about a take-back program at their location.

“Improving disposal practices will require a combined effort of strengthening education of patients and those advising patients as well as expanding disposal programs to ensure access,” the authors write.

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