Three-Fourths of All Drugs Get Tossed. Who Cares Where They Go?


The short answer is, no one.

Every day, pills and potions are being dispensed all over the world, controlled for the most part by laws and regulations. But once they are dispensed, that’s it. No one, it appears, is responsible for ensuring proper and safe disposal of medications when longer wanted or needed.

As a result, many people just don’t know what to do with medications and end up sending three-fourths of all unwanted drugs into the trash, sink or toilet. But these disposal methods can potentially deadly effects, both to other people and to the environment.

Some pharmacies do run take-back programs for their customers, but what is really needed is some form of a national take-back program that is well publicized and utilized.

That’s the aim of the National Association of Counties (NACo) (the nation’s largest local government organization) who, with the assistance of  the Product Policy Institute (PPI),  recently put forth a policy resolution supporting “producer responsibility” for unwanted medicines.

The resolution, created to address the twin issues of public and environmental safety, wants the pharmaceutical industry cover costs for the collection, transportation and hazardous waste disposal of all unwanted medications.

The chances of pharmaceutical companies warming to the idea, however, appear slim. Previously, mainly local attempts resulted in opposition from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which would rather see more education about proper disposal methods rather than a take-back program sure to cut into the bottom line.

According to PhRMA, unwanted medications can be disposed of in the household trash but should first be put into a sealed plastic bag. The medications should be crushed or diluted with water and mixed with kitty litter, sawdust or coffee grounds to make it less appealing to pets or kids. And the medication should never be flushed down the toilet or poured down the sink.

Image: cosmo flash