Back to Journals » Journal of Pain Research » Volume 13

Safe Opioid Storage and Disposal: A Survey of Patient Beliefs and Practices

Authors Gregorian R, Marrett E, Sivathanu V, Torgal M, Shah S, Kwong WJ, Gudin J

Received 18 December 2019

Accepted for publication 16 April 2020

Published 11 May 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 987—995


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael A Überall

Razmic Gregorian,1 Elizabeth Marrett,2 Vivek Sivathanu,1 Mariana Torgal,1 Sejal Shah,1 Winghan Jacqueline Kwong,2 Jeffrey Gudin3

1Simon-Kucher & Partners, Cambridge, MA, USA; 2Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., Basking Ridge, NJ, USA; 3Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA

Correspondence: Razmic Gregorian
Simon-Kucher & Partners, Strategy and Marketing Consultants, LLC, 201 Washington Street, Suite 3301, Boston, MA 02108, USA
Tel +1617-231-4500
Fax +1617-576-2751

Objective: To evaluate knowledge, practices, and beliefs of US patients receiving prescription opioids regarding opioid storage, disposal, and diversion.
Design: Internet-based, cross-sectional survey conducted between September and October 2018. Fisher’s exact tests and Kendall’s Tau-c were used to assess associations with storage and disposal outcomes.
Participants: Patients aged ≥ 18 years with acute (n=250) or chronic noncancer (n=250) pain were prescribed an oral opioid within 90 days of the survey.
Results: Mean (SD) patient age was 48 (14.7) years, 57.2% were female, 82.6% lived with ≥ 1 person in the home, and 28.0% had remaining/unused pills. One-third of all patients received safe opioid storage (35.2%) and/or disposal (31.4%) counseling from a healthcare provider, while 50.0% received neither storage nor disposal information. Only 27.4% of all patients stored their opioids in a locked location, and 17.9% of those with remaining/unused pills disposed of their medication. Patients who received any opioid counseling were more likely to keep their medication in a locked location compared with those who did not (42.4% vs 12.4%, respectively; P< 0.0001), as were those who perceived any risk of opioid diversion in the home compared with those who perceived no risk or were unsure (53.7% vs 24.2%, respectively; P< 0.0001). Disposal rates did not differ based on counseling received (20.8% counseled vs 16.1% not counseled; P=0.5011) or perceived diversion risk (27.8% perceived any risk vs 16.4% perceived no risk or unsure; P=0.3166).
Conclusion: The proportion of patients receiving prescription opioids who receive safe storage/disposal counseling from a healthcare provider appears suboptimal. Further research is warranted to develop effective ways to improve patient opioid storage/disposal education and practices.

Keywords: surveys, misuse, diversion, abuse, opioids

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]  View Full Text [HTML][Machine readable]