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pharmacy

Drug Disposal
Drug Disposal In addition to environmental concerns, prescription drug abuse has been on the rise so disposal now must address the accessibility of the unwanted drugs.

I was recently asked: “What is the proper way to dispose of medications?” Unfortunately, I was not able to answer quickly because I know that times have changed. Back when I graduated from pharmacy school, medications were just “flushed” down the toilet. We didn’t stop to think about what the medicinal waste was doing to the sewer system, the water supply, or even the environment. I distinctly remember that some tablets or capsules would begin to break down so quickly that we even suggested “flushing” the toilet first and then throwing the medications in as the toilet water began to swirl to prevent the coatings from adhering to the bottom of the toilet bowl!

The FDA advises that the following drugs be flushed down the toilet instead of thrown in the trash:
  • Actiq (fentanyl citrate)
  • Daytrana Transdermal Patch (methylphenidate)
  • Duragesic Transdermal Patch (fentanyl)
  • OxyContin Tablets (oxycodone)
  • Avinza Capsules (morphine sulfate)
  • Baraclude Tablets (entecavir)
  • Reyataz Capsules (atazanavir)
  • Tequin Tablets (gatifloxacin)
  • Zerit for Oral Solution (stavudine)
  • Meperidine HCl Tablets
  • Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen)
  • Xyrem (sodium oxybate)
  • Fentora (fentanyl buccal tablet)
In addition to environmental concerns, prescription drug abuse has been on the rise so disposal now must address the accessibility of the unwanted drugs. Abuse of prescription painkillers now ranks second – only behind marijuana – as the Nation’s most prevalent drug problem among teens and young adults. Because of these rising concerns, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly created and published guidelines for the proper disposal of medications last year. Here’s what they now urge Americans to do:

Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers. Mix the prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and put them in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, further ensuring that the drugs are not diverted or accidentally ingested by children or pets. Throw these containers in the trash. Flush prescription drugs down the toilet only if the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs doing so (see below) Take advantage of community pharmaceutical take-back programs. Some communities have pharmaceutical take-back programs or community solid-waste programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Where they exist, these programs are a good way to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.

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"Drug Disposal"
   authored by:
PHARMACY
Tamara Dulin, R.Ph., is a registered pharmacist with Nightingale Home Health Care in Carmel, Indiana. A 1991 graduate of Butler University College of Pharmacy, she has spent the majority of her career in consulting. She is a past president of the Ind...



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