Information for Researchers and Collaborators

Why Safe Medical Disposal For Me?

The state of Maine has experienced and documented the consequences of unused prescription medicine remaining in circulation. In 2002, nearly 90% of all drug deaths in Maine were caused by prescription medicine (Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Substance Abuse, 2005). In addition, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency arrests for prescription medicine misuse or diversion have increased dramatically to 16% of all arrests (Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Substance Abuse, 2005).

Safe Medicine Disposal for ME was the first program of its kind in the nation. The Center on Aging and its statewide and national partners received funding from the United States Environmental Protection Agency to pilot a prescription medicine disposal program by mail. At the program’s end, it was funded through a Fund for Healthy Maine allocation to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. This program provided postage-paid envelopes and participant surveys to interested individuals throughout Maine.

What Where The Objectives Of Safe Medicine Disposal For Me?

This innovative program had three key objectives:

  1. Create a centralized mail-in collection point for disposal of unused medicine, allowing researchers to analyze the type and quantity of medicine that is accumulating in the homes of Maine residents.
  2. Use program research to inform prescribing policy and practice in Maine
  3. Develop an educational outreach campaign to inform Maine’s older adults and caregivers about the risks to keeping unused medicine in the home, as well as the benefits of safe medicine disposal.

What Happened To The Medicine?

All envelopes with the unused medicine and completed surveys were returned to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency for safe storage. The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency oversaw the cataloging and disposal of returned medicine.

What Happened To The Survey?

Each medicine disposal envelope included a Participant Survey and Survey Instructions and Informed Consent. The survey was designed to assess the type of returned medicine and reason for its return. It was developed based upon a model created by the Community Medical Foundation for Patient Safety.

Surveys were collected by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and returned to the Center on Aging for analysis. Information collected included basic demographic data, the source of medicine that was returned in the program envelope, identification of contents, reasons for returning the medicine, and an evaluative assessment of the usefulness of the project.

How Can I Find Out The Results Of This Program?

Results and analysis will be posted on this site as they become available. You may also contact the program at 1.866.637.9743 or email with any questions you have. As of December 2012, the program had disposed of over 8,000 pounds of unused and unwanted medications.

Want More Information?

Call the Safe Medicine Disposal for ME Program Helpline at: 1.866.637.9743


Copyright © 2014 University of Maine Center on Aging