A Community Health Center Buyback Program to Reduce the Supply of Opioids to Secondary Users

Secure disposal of unused medications is one strategy to reduce the availability of opioids for diversion or abuse to secondary users after they have been dispensed. Are patients more likely to return unused opioids when informed and incentivized about a medication disposal program compared to passively observing a disposal kiosk in their pharmacy? We hypothesize that informing patients at the point of dispensing the medication, sending reminders via text message, and providing a financial incentive can significantly boost return rates. Our proposed pilot intervention will take place at five in-house pharmacies owned by a community health center yielding a potential sample size of 2,400 acute opioid prescriptions over 12 months that will be randomized across treatment and control groups. We will measure the percent of patients returning opioids as well as the amount and type of medication returned across both groups. We will also compare the amount returned to the amount prescribed by type of medication to better understand whether the program has an impact on usage and refills. Finally, we will explore the degree of heterogeneity in outcomes across different groups according to patient characteristics that predict opioid addiction such as age, gender, and diagnosis. This project is receiving Short-Term Research Management (STReaM) support from J-PAL North America staff.

RFP Cycle:
HCDI RFP X [Sept 2018]
United States of America
  • Alissia Sasser Modestino
  • Gary Young
  • Md Noor-E-Alam
  • Pilot project