Help patients clean out their medicine cabinets


Invite customers for CMRs and offer easy ways to restock their basic health supplies

In brief:

  • Many patients could be taking fewer drugs than they do.
  • Many patients keep drugs even after they are no longer using them and don’t dispose of them properly.
  • When customers are in a spring cleaning mindset, help them unclutter their meds and refresh their health supplies.

When patients are in a spring cleaning mode, encourage them to also clean out their medicine cabinets. Invite them to schedule a time to bring their prescriptions and over-the-counter (OTC) medications into your pharmacy for a review, and remind them to update the first-aid essentials in their homes.

Why drug clean ups are needed

Consider these facts:

  • 52% of patients who take prescription drugs had never asked a healthcare provider if they could stop taking any medications.1
  • Among those who asked their doctor, about 75% could stop taking one or more drugs.1
  • Many patients have unused opioids at home and few dispose of them properly.2

Invite patients to do CMRs

Your pharmacy may already contact patients who are eligible for comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs) to come in for a consultation, since CMRs are part of the Star Ratings quality measures. Inviting patients in for a CMR is a best practice and can be a key part of a spring cleanup.

For information about CMRs see:
What You Need to Know About CMRs
How to Conduct Comprehensive Medication Reviews

During spring cleaning time, remind patients to check:

  1. Medications and OTC products. During a CMR or brown bag medication review, your pharmacist can check for unnecessary medications and potential adverse interactions. Remind patients to bring their OTC products too. Tip: Ask patients where they store products to ensure they aren’t keeping them in humid places such as bathrooms or in refrigerators if a drug doesn’t belong there.
  2. Expiration dates. Show patients where to find the expiration dates on products such as ointment tubes. Remind them to check products that they may not even realize expire, such as sunscreen. Before patients just toss out expired medications, remind them of safe disposal options at your pharmacy or in your town.
  3. Medical devices. Does that thermometer in the back of the closet still work? Could an updated glucose or blood pressure monitor provide better readings? Remind patients to think about compression bandages, heating pads, and other products as they refresh their healthcare supplies. Make sure technicians understand the key features of the products on your shelves, so they can answer questions and point out benefits.

Post reminders to include health products in their spring cleaning. Along with that, create a display where customers can conveniently grab new supplies of items that everyone should have on hand, such as pain relievers, allergy medications, anti-diarrhea medications and bandages.

By having your pharmacy take a fresh approach to reviewing patients’ medications and supplies, patients will have safe, up-to-date products on hand when they need them.

Support Safe Disposal

Teach patients to safely dispose of medications that are expired or no longer needed.

If you don’t offer safe disposal at your pharmacy, promote National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Events usually are scheduled in April and October. In October 2017, Americans turned in about 456 tons of medication at more than 5,300 sites across the country.

The next drug take back day is April 28, 2018. Click here for information and tools.

1 “Why You Need a Medication Checkup,” Ginger Skinner, Consumer Reports, Oct.18, 2017. LINK
2, 3, 4 “Prescription Opioid Analgesics Commonly Unused After Surgery,” Mark C. Bicket, Jane J. Long, Peter J. Pronovost, et al., JAMA Surgery, November 2017. LINK