I read the Wall Street Journal just about every day. Today’s Health Mailbox was concerning old medications. A reader wrote in:
What is a safe method for disposing of old pharmaceuticals? I’ve been told they can enter drinking-water sources if they are flushed.-G.C.
Now, this is actually a pretty good question. I get asked probably once every week to ten days, and I’ve never had an answer that I’ve been satisfied with. Tara Parker-Pope, the Health columnist for the journal, responds explaining the research behind the claims that these old pharmaceuticals can get into drinking water — all undoubtedly true. She then goes on to suggest that patients contact their local community pharmacies for advice, because she doesn’t have a surefire method of disposing them:
The best advice is to ask your local pharmacy if it has a medication disposal program. Your pharmacist could incinerate medicines along with other pharmacy waste products.
At my pharmacy, we do not have such a program, nor do we incinerate pharmacy waste on site. (We do, however, ship PHI off to the home office where I assume it gets incinerated, though for all I know it could be shredded instead.) What we normally do is simply throw old pills in the trash. I guess that makes us bad citizens. The EPA, on the other hand, recommends simply flushing the old drugs down the toilet (PDF).
[tags]Pharmacy, medication disposal, EPA, environment[/tags]