Industry speaks up on Capitol Hill about drug-disposal programs

7/20/2009

NEW YORK Associated Press investigation revealed last year. Meanwhile, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration statistics indicated that up to 80% of drug abusers take medications belonging to friends or relatives.—With every sip of tap water, at least 41 million Americans unknowingly drink pharmaceuticals, many of them unused drugs flushed down toilets, an

But improper disposal of unused drugs is getting attention from the retail pharmacy industry and Congress. Speaking on behalf of the National Community Pharmacists Association, pharmacist Cheri Garvin testified before a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security hearing last month on a bill that would amend the Controlled Substance Act to provide for safe disposal of controlled substances, and also ban labeling that recommends flushing unused drugs.

As CEO of Leesburg Pharmacy in Leesburg, Va., Garvin helped create a drug disposal program for the pharmacy a year and a half ago. “We originally started looking for safer ways to get rid of our own waste, but decided there was a bigger need to allow patients to return outdated or unused meds,” Garvin told Drug Store News.

The NCPA used Garvin’s program as a business model that members can adopt for their own pharmacies, but numerous other retail pharmacies have adopted programs of their own. Kinney Drugs, based in Gouverneur, N.Y., launched its first “Medicine Collection Day” last June, and Seattle-based Bartell Drugs won an award from the Product Stewardship Institute for its own drug-disposal program.

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