[Pharmwaste] Canadian meds return program works

Tenace, Laurie Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
Fri Mar 14 10:30:48 EDT 2008

Vancouver Sun,  Canada: Monday, March 03, 2008
Earth-friendly drug disposal
Community-minded pharmacists performing public service
Vancouver Sun

Most people instinctively know that it isn't a good idea to flush their
expired or unused medications down the drain, says pharmacist Wendy Mays.
But many aren't sure of what is the best way to clear the unused and expired
medications out of their homes, she says. The safe and environmentally
friendly way to ensure old or unused medications are disposed of properly is
to take them in to a community pharmacy that participates in the Medications
Return Program.
"Not a lot of people are aware of the program," says Wendy, a pharmacist and
owner of two Pharmasave stores, one in West Vancouver and one in Ladner. "I
find when people actually do find out about it they're delighted to have
found the service."
More than 90 per cent of British Columbia's pharmacies take part in the
Medications Return Program. They collect unused and expired medicines from
their pharmacy patients, and hand them over to an organization that uses an
environmentally friendly incineration process to dispose of them safely.
In 2006, B.C. pharmacies collected more than 20 ton of unused medications,
which were disposed of safely and in an environmentally friendly way.
Participating pharmacies will accept all prescription and non-prescription
drugs, herbal products, and vitamin and mineral supplements.
"Most people just know it's the right thing to do," Wendy says of her
patients. The public is becoming more and more aware of how their individual
actions can impact the environment. Drugs that are flushed down the drain
pose a threat to the environment. They could eventually end up in lakes,
rivers, streams and eventually drinking water.
Throwing them in the trash is not an option in Vancouver, where prescription
and non-prescription drugs are banned from the garbage because of the
potential environmental impact. Drugs that are thrown in the garbage could
also be found and ingested by children, pets or wild animals.
It isn't safe to keep expired and unused medicines in your home either. You
could mistakenly ingest them, or they could fall into the hands of young
Wendy has found that the people most likely to look around their house and
take stock of all the expired and unused drugs are new parents and
grandparents. "They don't want medication laying around -- medication their
kids can get a hold of."
Bringing in your old drugs also presents an opportunity to touch base with a
pharmacist. "If someone comes back with a container that looks kind of new,
you may ask a few questions. If you're doing a new prescription you can talk
about maybe not starting with a large supply.
"It gives you an opportunity to chat about something that hasn't worked,"
Wendy says, "or a situation that has changed, or something that you would do
differently in the future."
Find a pharmacy
Want to find a pharmacy near you that accepts expired and unused medications?
Visit www.medicationsreturn.ca.
Looking for a pharmacy that accepts needles and syringes for safe disposal?
For a listing go to: www.bcpharmacy.ca

Laurie J. Tenace
Environmental Specialist
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Road, MS 4555
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400
PH: (850) 245-8759
FAX: (850) 245-8811
Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us 

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