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Recycling Medications

Original post made by Paul Losch, a resident of Palo Alto, on Jul 28, 2011

What do you do when you want to dispose of a medication—especially prescription, especially those that are known for effective treatment when used properly, and subject to abuse and addiction? Flush it down the toilet? Throw it in the trash? Take it back to the prescribing pharmacy? How about the Palo Alto HazMat recycling program on Embarcadero Way? Something else?

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Comments (7)

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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Paul,

Good post. However, what does "safe recycling" mean?

Where are these complex organic chemicals disposed of, once they are turned backed to the pharmacy, or to the toxic "recycling" facility on Embarcadero? Are they thermally destroyed (e.g. plasma arc), or are they simply buried in toxic sites next to poor people?

I think you are are not looking over the horizon, and you may be guilty of "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome. I, personally, think that Palo Alto residents should take care of their own wastes, of all types.


Like this comment
Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm

PAMF will take them at their pharmacy. There is a drop box in the waiting area


Like this comment
Posted by Someone In The Know
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Craig:
There is no such thing as "recycling" prescription drugs - they are disposed of.

If you Google "prescription drug disposal," you will find:
FDA recommendations:
Web Link
Most drugs you can/should throw in the trash (after taking a few precautions). Most drugs you should NOT flush down the toilet (which used to be the standard advice given out.)

DEA National Take-Back Initiative:
Web Link
Next one occurs on Oct 29.

In CA, Joe Simitian already had a law passed (SB 966) to address this issue - it has a final implementation date of Jan 1, 2013
Web Link

Finally, the CA Board of Pharmacy has recs for disposal:
Web Link

It's not an easy issue - pharmacists are already under the gun in terms of their required productivity (ask your pharmacist) - the last thing most of them want is to have to deal with "returned pills."


Like this comment
Posted by ABC
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:48 am

I had to pick up a prescription, very expensive, I think my copay was like $400. After a few pills, my body's production of urine almost stopped. So I stopped the medication on my doctors' orders and was switched to something else. G We don't know for sure if it was the medication, but my doctor won't let me take it anymore.

Now what? Pharmaceutical companies mark these products up plenty, and they know some percentage of people have problems. Why shouldn't I and my insurance company be entitled to a refund? More to the point, if consumers were guaranteed a refund for unused medications (within, say, a month of expiration), you can guarantee unused meds would all go back to the pharmacy and two really good things would happen: 1) the pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies would get far faster and better feedback about which medications people stop because of side effects, and 2) it would instantly end the practice of people flushing medications into the water system. Oh, and patients wouldn't get soaked for medications they can't use.

And, the marketplace would actually make things work better because companies would have more of an incentive to figure out how to personalize medications so they work for everyone (right now, they make plenty of money on the majority and the rest can be considered collateral damage -- even if they didn't make money on the ones who find out they can't tolerate the medications, and they do because no one can return them for their money back).


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I guess I did not communicate very well.

I want to know where the returned, recycled, disposed-of drugs end up. Also, what happens to the drugs that are cycled through the human body, and go to the sewer system (through urine and feces...and end up attached to the sewage solids)?

If the drugs end up in land fills, that only delays their final leach into the larger environment. Yes, soil bacterial will degrade the load, somewhat, but not totally. Plasma arc, on the other hand, will completely destroy the molecules, and they won't end up in a toxic land fill or incinerator, next to poor people.


Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

ABC, would you take a second hand drug?


Like this comment
Posted by joey
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 12, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Now what? Pharmaceutical companies mark these products up plenty, and they know some percentage of people have problems. Why shouldn't I and my insurance company be entitled to a refund? More to the point, if consumers were guaranteed a refund for unused medications (within, say, a month of expiration), you can guarantee unused meds would all go back to the pharmacy and two really good things would happen: 1) the pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies would get far faster and better feedback about which medications people stop because of side effects, and 2) it would instantly end the practice of people flushing medications into the water system. Oh, and patients wouldn't get soaked for medications they can't use.


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