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It is common practice to discard or recycle items when there is no longer a use for them; however, unused medications cannot be handled in the same manner as most other household items. Did you know that medications can be harmful to the environment and also pose a risk to others in the family (including pets) when they are not disposed of properly? The concern then becomes how unused medications should be discarded. In the opinions of many in the pharmaceutical industry, collection receptacles may be the answer.
Current disposal guidelines, as set forth by the FDA, include the use of take-back programs and U.S Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) authorized collectors. Although they do suggest that some select medications can be flushed down the sink or toilet to prevent accidental ingestion by unauthorized individuals (especially children), collection receptacles are becoming increasingly more important.
According to the Pharmacy Times and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, new methods of collecting unused medication are crucial -- the abuse of prescription drugs can lead to addiction. In September, 2014, the Department of Justice added a final rule to implement the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which includes allowing “registered collectors, such as retail pharmacies, to update their DEA registration to become a collector and place receptacles at their pharmacies for the collection and disposal of ultimate users’ controlled substances.” These receptacles are to be securely attached to a permanent structure within the pharmacy and should be placed where employees can see them in order monitor their use. Additionally, they are to be designed in a way that patients can easily deposit the medications without accessing the contents. Once filled, the receptacle inner liners are returned to a DEA registered reverse distributor facility for proper destruction.
Some companies that have already implemented collection receptacles are King Kullen (Long Island, New York) and Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City, Utah). Hopefully more pharmacies will join this effort. “People understand their role in protecting our waters and getting unused medications out of the home," said Albert W. Hesse Jr., RPH, King Kullen's Director of Pharmacy.
As a company that takes great interest in new initiatives such as this, we wanted to be sure to share with our readers.