All Posts Tagged With: "medication disposal"

Medication Disposal

photo: unknown

Recently my family and I have been faced with the unfortunate decision to move my grandmother into an Assisted Living Community, based on her increasing battle with Dementia. In addition to many other things, one of my jobs has been to find a place to dispose of her unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medications — which had probably been mounting for quite some time. Based on a few conversations and reading a few disheartening articles (one which came from Johns Hopkins ), the consensus seems to be that one option is to dispose of unwanted medication by dumping them into the toilet.

However, with some more research, I found that this is incredibly unsafe. One reason is that septic tanks and waste treatment plants aren’t designed to remove 20th-century synthetic drugs, most of which aren’t even biodegradeable. This means that a huge percentage of this stuff is getting fed right back into our water supply; eek!! It also negatively effects surrounding ecosystems and public and private land. A common alternative and a suggestion that came from the FDA is to to mix or dilute meds with undesirable substances like kitty litter, soda, dirt or cayenne pepper and throwing them into the trash, which theoretically will deter children or household pets from accidentally harming themselves. Although I think this is better then dumping them into the toilet, it’s still contaminating the earth by potentially leaching into the ground once they’re dropped into a landfill, thus creating unknown health effects. Some suggestions that are easy and might engage the public more on this issue:

1. First, see if the medication has a label for advice on disposal. This is usually done because of concerns with illegal uses, overdoses or human or animal contamination.

2. Call your doctor to talk about taking back unused medication.

3. See if there is a take-back program in your community.
Call local pharmacy
Call trash service
Call local hospital or Medical Center

4. Donate to a developing country. One example is the Starfish Project .

5. Donate locally. Kansas has a new law that lets mail-order pharmacies, nursing homes and other medical facilities donate unused drugs, which is producing a windfall for the state’s safety-net clinics. Why not get one of these passed in your state? Continued