Recycling Unused Prescription Drugs

Yesterday I read an article in the Oregonian, State seeks to recycle unused prescription drugs, which was about finding a way to recycle unused prescription drugs and make them available to patients who otherwise couldn’t afford them. An estimated 3% of prescription drugs nationwide go unused, lost, ignored, replaced or no longer needed.

During the past decade, 37 states have passed some sort of unused-drug-recycling program. “But as well-intentioned as these efforts are,” a survey by Scientific American found, “practical problems have prevented¬† widespread implementation of such programs.”

Recycling unused prescription drugs seems like a no-brainer but would you feel comfortable taking medication that was taken home originally by someone else? This is a valid concern.

Monday was the mark of the first legislative hearing to set up a Prescription Drug Repository within the Oregon Board of Pharmacy to redistribute costly unused medications to uninsured patients. Gary Schnabel, executive director of the Pharmacy Board, communicated that the board may eventually support the idea, if lawmakers can resolve practical details about how to guarantee the purity of recycled drugs.

One state to look at would be Oklahoma. In a bit over 5 years the program, which recycles medication from patients in long-term care facilities, has distributed nearly 47,000 unused prescriptions, with a wholesale value of more than $4 million. They accept only unit-dose packaging directly from nursing homes or assisted living facilities and in five years have grown from 3 participating nursing homes to 59.

Some benefits of recycling unused prescription drugs would be that they are being reused, they are not contaminating our water and they would be kept out of the hands of people who would misuse them. But the one question remains, It might be difficult to make people feel confident in what they are taking when they know its been taken away from the pharmacy intended for someone else.

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