The campaign - tagged "SMARxT DISPOSAL" - informs people on how to safely dispose of medicines in the trash, and highlights the environmental threat posed from flushing medicines down the toilet.
Consumers were once advised to flush their expired or unused medications, but recent environmental impact studies report that this practice could be having an adverse impact on the environment.
Most unwanted medicines should be crushed, not flushed. (Photo courtesy California Dept. of Toxic Substances Control)
Instead, the currently approved way to handle most medications is expressed by the campaign as a set of simple instructions. "Don't flush those medicines, crush the medicines in a plastic bag; add coffee-grounds, sawdust or kitty-litter; seal the bag and put it in the trash. In other words, crush...don't flush."
"Trace amounts of chemical compounds often associated with medications have been increasingly detected in our waters, the very waters that support our nation's fish and other wildlife," said Gary Frazer, assistant director of fisheries and habitat conservation with the Fish and Wildlife Service.
He said "uncertainty still exists about the impact of these chemicals" on human health and the environment, but the three organizations "recognize the value of getting in front of the issue."
The partnership was announced during APhA's annual meeting held in San Diego, California, one of the largest gatherings of pharmacy professionals and health services providers in the country.
"Medications play a vital role in our society," said Dr. John Gans, executive vice president and chief executive of APhA. "Consumers and pharmacists should be aware that it is important to take that extra step to protect our families and our natural resources."
"Proper disposal of medicines is important to America's families. PhRMA is very excited to be working on this initiative with the Fish and Wildlife Service and American Pharmacist Association that will educate all Americans on the safest way to dispose of unused medicines," said Billy Tauzin, president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association.
While the rule of thumb is not to flush, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that certain medications should be flushed due to their abuse potential.
The pharmacy groups advise consumers to read the instructions on the medication and if in doubt, talk to a pharmacist. Also to prevent abuse, consumers are advised to remove and destroy all identifying personal information, including the prescription label, from discarded medication containers.
Visit the SMARxT Disposal website at: http://www.smarxtdisposal.net/
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.