Scripps Health installs drug disposal kiosks at three of its pharmacies

SAN DIEGO — Scripps Health Tuesday installed three permanent drug take-back kiosks.

Residents can drop off expired, unused and unwanted pills from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays at the kiosks, which are attached to Scripps’ on-site pharmacies in La Jolla, Encinitas and the Hillcrest neighborhood.

Scripps is the first health care provider in San Diego County to offer annual access to prescription drug disposal services, according to Dr. Ole Snyder, physician chair of the Scripps Opioid Stewardship Program.

“The safest way to dispose of unused medications is by bringing them to a take-back location, but that’s not always easy,” Snyder said. “Scripps is changing that by making this service available year-round at no cost to the public at conveniently located sites which already are visited by patients.”

Scripps aims to reduce the public’s use of and dependency on opioids through the Stewardship Program. Roughly 54 million people have used prescription drugs like opioids for nonmedical reasons at least once, according to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. In addition, 62 percent of teenagers who have taken prescription drugs recreationally say they got them from their parents’ medicine cabinets.

“This issue is of great importance to Scripps Health because many of the prescription drug overdose deaths that occur in the United States each year can be traced back to pill bottles left in home medicine cabinets,” Snyder said. “Drugs that remain unused following an injury or illness can pose a dangerous risk and temptation to others in the house, including visitors and workers.”

This Saturday is Prescription Drug Take Back Day. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, local law enforcement agencies and county officials will host collection events for unwanted prescription drugs at 44 sites across the county.