Activated charcoal safe for home disposal of prescription opioids

  • Brummett CM & al.
  • JAMA Surg
  • 27.03.2019

  • von Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Outpatient surgical patients who received an activated charcoal bag for in-home disposal of unused prescription opioids were nearly 4 times more likely to dispose of their unused opioids than patients who just received usual care or a pamphlet with Drug Enforcement Administration-registered disposal locations.
  • About 70% of study participants’ prescription opioids went unused.

Why this matters

  • Unused prescription opioids are the most common source of opioids taken for nonmedical purposes.

Study design

  • This clinical trial randomly allocated 396 opioid-naive patients (age, ≥18 years) undergoing an outpatient surgical procedure to usual care, activated charcoal bag for in-home opioid deactivation, or a pamphlet with Drug Enforcement Administration-registered disposal locations.
  • Funding: National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Key results

  • Disposing opioids was reported by 28.6%, 33.3%, and 57.1% patients who received usual care, education regarding disposal locations, and a charcoal activated bag, respectively.
  • Chances of opioid disposal were 3.8 times (95% CI, 1.7-8.5) higher among participants who received a charcoal bag vs usual care.
  • Participants who received a charcoal bag vs other 2 groups reported less medication flushing and were significantly less likely to leave home for disposal (P<.001>

Limitations

  • Postoperative opioid use and disposal of unused medications was self-reported.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD