How To Safely Dispose Of Rx Drugs

According to the White House Drug Policy Office, prescription drug abuse among 18 – to 25-year-olds rose 17 percent from 2002 to 2005. In 2004 and again in 2005, there were more new abusers of prescription drugs than new users of any illicit drug.

Young people mistakenly believe prescription drugs are safer than street drugs, doctors say. But accidental prescription drug deaths are rising and students who abuse pills are more likely to drive fast, binge-drink and engage in other dangerous behaviors. Parents should be alert to these signs and changes in behavior.

Al Gore III’s arrest may raise awareness among parents, said Dr. Donald Misch, director of health services at Northwestern University in Evanston. “This is an opportunity for people to understand this is happening in your household,” he said. “These are your kids. The drug dealers they’re going to are their doctors, their parents and their friends.”

Parents should clean out their medicine cabinets and lock up any prescription medications. This is more than likely customary in homes with toddlers but is advisable no matter the age of the child, just to be safe. This would also prohibit giving them to friends if your child isn’t a user.

Deputy drug czar, Scott Burns stated: “We found in focus groups of young people across the country that in large measure they’re getting the drugs from their own medicine cabinets and the Internet. Some Web pharmacies deliver ordered drugs without legitimate prescriptions, but other sites steal credit card information and never fill orders, Burns said.

With the rise in prescription drug abuse, three federal agencies issued guidelines earlier this year for disposing of medications without harming the environment.

1. Remove unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs from their original containers.

2. Mix prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, like used coffee grounds or cat litter, and put them in impermeable, nondescript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags.

3. Throw containers in the trash.

4. Don’t flush prescription drugs down the toilet unless the accompanying patient information says specifically it is safe to do so.

5. Return drugs to pharmaceutical take-back sites that allow consumers to return unused drugs for safe disposal.

Sources: White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Protection Agency.

Author’s Note: A pharmaceutical sales representative can increase sales by volunteering to return expired or outdated medications for the wholesalers in their territory. This can be a daunting task for their employees. Offering customer service at this level is rare and not expected. This also gives the drug rep an idea of the inventory on hand and an opportunity to help sell their medications. The wholesaler can offer specials to the retail drug stores on your proprietary pharmaceuticals.

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