UPMC Health Plan

Denise Hughes
UPMC Health Plan

UPMC for Life Launches Drug Disposal Initiative for Medicare Advantage Members

Effort Focuses on Safely Removing Unwanted Drugs from the Home

Pittsburgh (May 9, 2022) – To address safety and health issues associated with unused or expired prescription medications, UPMC Health Plan announced today the distribution of medication disposal bags to the more than 11,000 UPMC for Life (Medicare Advantage) members as part of UPMC Health Plan’s holistic and comprehensive approach to safe medication management for members with multiple chronic or medically complex conditions.

“We know managing multiple medications can be difficult, especially if a medication is stopped or the dose is changed. That is why we prioritize pharmacy management as an added service to our Medicare Advantage members,” said Chronis Manolis, SVP and Chief Pharmacy Officer at UPMC Health Plan,” said Chronis Manolis, SVP and Chief Pharmacy Officer at UPMC Health Plan. “Having unused or expired medications around the house can be dangerous and we want to make sure that our members have a safe and easy way to dispose of them properly.”

The drug disposal bags are being sent during the month of May.

Proper disposal of unused medications is a serious issue. If not discarded properly, prescription medications can end up in landfills and in drinking water. Additionally, a large percentage of abused or diverted prescription drugs are supplied by or are taken from a friend or family member. In fact, prescription painkillers were involved in nearly 247,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. from 1999-2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

UPMC Health Plan Medicare members will receive the drug disposal kit and general information on safe disposal practices, along with instructions on how to use the bag. The disposal process is easy to follow. Members simply place the medication inside the disposal pouch, fill the pouch with water, and seal it. After a few seconds, the charcoal inside is activated and the member can safely dispose of the pouch in their regular trash. This unique and innovative initiative eliminates the need to mail prescriptions back or take them to a takeback site like most disposal programs require.

“UPMC for Life members who have multiple chronic conditions have enough to worry about, and we are so pleased to provide them with this simple, important resource to help manage their medications,” said Angela Perri, Chief Medicare Officer, UPMC Health Plan. “Drug disposal bags help get unnecessary, expired prescriptions out of the medicine cabinet and safely out of the home.”



About UPMC Insurance Services

Serving more than 4 million members, UPMC Insurance Services is owned and operated by UPMC, a world-renowned health care provider and insurer based in Pittsburgh, Pa. UPMC Insurance Services includes commercial products from UPMC Health Plan for groups as well as individuals. Commercial products also include workers' compensation and employee assistance from nationally known Workpartners. Government products include Medicare Advantage (UPMC for Life); special needs plans for those eligible for Medicare and Medical Assistance (UPMC for Life Complete Care and UPMC Community HealthChoices); Medical Assistance (UPMC for You); and Children's Health Insurance Program (UPMC for Kids). Community Care Behavioral Health, one of the nation's largest managed care behavioral health organizations, offers a full range of services to Commercial and Medical Assistance members. For more information, visit upmchealthplan.com.