National Drug Take Back Day Yields 450 TONS of Unused Medications

Rise in Prescription Waste is Costing Unnecessary Money

Saturday, April 29 was Drug Take Back Day, where unused drugs were returned in droves to designated Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) sites. While the goal is to prevent accidental poisoning and to protect the environment, Drug Take Back Day also serves as an alarming reminder of the high rate of unnecessary prescriptions being filled each year. This year alone, 900,386 pounds, or 450 TONS of unwanted medicines were returned, surpassing last year’s record of 893,498 pounds, an increase of nearly four tons.

While the high turnout is encouraging for many concerned about the environment, it should raise alarms for plan sponsors. If your pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) is allowing prescription refills at less than 84 percent of days’ supply, this will inevitably lead to extra and unnecessary prescription fills for your members. Some PBMs allow refills as low as 60 to 65 percent, which can lead to one or two extra prescriptions at the end of the year resulting in stockpiling and waste.  

How much did you pay for unnecessary drugs, which contributed to the 450 tons? Stop paying for drugs your members don’t need.

MedImpact works hard to prevent unnecessary payer spending. As a trend-focused PBM with an eye on adherence, we manage appropriate utilization that reduces potential waste like the excess seen on Drug Take Back Day.

Highly Managed Access Reduces Waste

We all understand the importance of medication adherence as a means to optimize health outcomes while reducing total medical costs. With highly managed access to clinically appropriate medications on the right schedules, payers can effectively reduce costs while maintaining adherence for their members.

When mail-order pharmacies have auto refill programs set at the minimum standard wait time before sending the refill to a member, they unnecessarily increase payer and consumer spending on drugs. This also artificially inflates adherence measurements when analyzing claims data, which makes it challenging to know where true interventions need to be conducted for better care.

MedImpact helps reduce waste through its mail-order program delivered via MedImpact Direct®, which provides high-touch refill reminders to help ensure adherence on a schedule that does not result in extra, wasteful medication dispensing and stockpiling. Members don’t need to remember to refill their medication when it is time. MedImpact Direct pharmacy staff will contact them to verify the need for their refill (again, to reduce waste) approximately 14 days prior to their supply being exhausted (84 percent of usage) for all maintenance medications excluding controlled substances.

MedImpact Direct only implements automatic refills upon request, and applies strict criteria to help ensure the appropriate amount of medication is delivered when it is actually needed. Members can also choose to opt out of the refill reminder program at any time.

MedImpact Direct is committed to a high-touch, high-quality mail-order program that appropriately manages utilization for lower costs and better care.


For More Information
Our goal is to lower costs for plans and members alike. To see how MedImpact or MedImpact Direct can help you reduce waste associated with unnecessary spending, please contact your account representative for more information. If you don’t have an account, email us at You can also see our member-focused approach at

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