[Pharmwaste] Mix Leftover Meds with Kitty Litter?

matthew mireles mirelesmc at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 6 12:17:18 EST 2007

We are involved with this project and the EPA-funded pilot study in Maine.
About 3 years ago, we started set up the national Unused and Expired
Medicines Registry to collect data on unwanted meds.  The Registry is very
rich with good info about type of drugs (prescript and OTC), quantity of
returned drugs, cost, reason why people don't want them, and some
environmental classification based on the JANUS pbt index (Sweden).  We now
are receiving data from both coasts of the US.  


The Registry is the center of direct mail-back study in Maine to help
evaluate the program and provide analyses of the collection.  The Registry
is also part of our community campaign Get Rid of Unused Pharmaceuticals
(GROUP).  For more info about the Maine study, go to www.noemaine.org
<http://www.noemaine.org/> .  

If you want more info about the Registry or how to participate in this
program, visit www.comofcom.com <http://www.comofcom.com/> .  We are based
in the Houston area.


Matthew C. Mireles, PhD, MPH

President and CEO

Community Medical Foundation for Patient Safety




From: pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us
[mailto:pharmwaste-bounces at lists.dep.state.fl.us] On Behalf Of Freeman,
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 8:30 AM
To: pharmwaste at lists.dep.state.fl.us
Subject: [Pharmwaste] Mix Leftover Meds with Kitty Litter?


I just ran across this article and thought I'd pass it along.  Beware the
ick factor.


Original can be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21641396/




Kelly Freeman

Solid Waste Program Coordinator

Capital Area Council of Governments

512-916-6040 Phone

512-916-6001 Fax

kfreeman at capcog.org 



Don't flush leftover meds - mix with kitty litter

Experts say icky disposal method safer for kids and environment

WASHINGTON - It's time to pooper-scoop your leftover medicine.

Mixing  <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21641396/##> cough syrup, Vicodin or
Lipitor with cat litter is the new advice on getting rid of unused
medications. Preferably used cat litter.

It's a compromise, better for the environment than flushing - and one that
renders dangerous medicines too yucky to try if children, pets or drug
abusers stumble through the trash.

A government experiment is about to send that advice straight to thousands
of patients who use potent painkillers, sleeping pills and other controlled

Why? Prescription drug abuse is on the rise, and research suggests more than
half of people who misuse those drugs get them for free from a friend or
relative. In other words, having leftovers in the medicine cabinet is a
risky idea. Anyone visiting your house could swipe them.

So 6,300 pharmacies around the country have signed up for a pilot project
with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. When
patients fill prescriptions for a list of abuse-prone medicines, from Ambien
to Vicodin, the pharmacist also will hand over a flyer urging them to take
the cat-litter step if they don't wind up using all their pills.

Not a cat owner? Old coffee grounds work, or doggie doo, even sawdust. Just
seal the meds and the, er, goop in a plastic bag before tossing in the

"We don't want to assert that this is a panacea for the larger problem,"
says SAMHSA's Dr. H. Westley Clark. "It just provides them with a caveat
that these are not things you can just lay around."

But the concern isn't only about controlled substances. How to best dispose
of any medicine, whether prescription or over-the-counter, is a growing

Unfortunately, "we don't have a silver bullet," says Joe Starinchak of the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

No one knows just how many unused drugs Americans dump each year, or how
many are hoarded because patients simply don't know what to do with them or
that they should dispose of them.

No more flushing
Once, patients were told to flush old drugs down the toilet. No more - do
not flush unless you have one of the few prescriptions that the Food and
Drug Administration specifically labels for flushing.

That's because antibiotics, hormones and other drugs are being found in
waterways, raising worrisome questions about potential health and
environmental effects. Already, studies have linked hormone exposure to fish
abnormalities. Germs exposed to antibiotics in the environment may become
more drug-resistant.

Some communities set aside "take-back" days to return leftover doses to
pharmacies or other collection sites for hazardous-waste incineration. The
<http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21641396/##> Environmental Protection Agency
recently funded a novel pilot program by the University of Maine to see if
consumers will mail back unused drugs - a program that local officials
estimate could cull up to 1.5 tons of medications.

But it's not clear if incineration is better for the environment than the
slow seepage from a landfill, cautions the Fish and Wildlife Service's

Plus, take-back programs require legal oversight to make sure what's
collected isn't then diverted for illegal use.

Starinchak calls the yucky-bag disposal method interim advice - the top
recommendation until more research can determine the best way to balance the
human health, environmental and legal issues.

So early next year, Fish and Wildlife will team with the American
Pharmacists Association for a larger campaign called SMARxT Disposal. The
campaign will spread this latest advice through even more drugstores, to
purchasers of all types of medicine.

"There is a $64,000 question here: Whether people really will get rid of
it," says Carol J. Boyd, director of the
<http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21641396/##> University of Michigan's Institute
for Research on Women and Gender and a well-known specialist on drug

Say you're prescribed a week's worth of Vicodin for pain after a car crash,
and you use only three days' worth. Most people would keep the rest, to
avoid paying for more if they suffer serious pain for some other reason
later. Boyd isn't sure how to counter that money issue.

But keeping the leftovers makes them accessible for misuse by children,
other relatives or visitors. Stealing aside, Boyd's research uncovered that
friends and family openly share these pills - "Use this, it helped me" -
even with teens and college students, apparently not realizing there could
be serious health consequences.

"The public needs to know this," Boyd says of the disposal advice. "What's
not easy is, we don't know if it's working."



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