The Substance Abuse and MentalHealth Services Administration is launchingan experiment with 6300 pharmaciesnationwide to educate patients on how todispose of unused medications.
When patients fill prescriptions for alist of abuse-prone medicines, the pharmacistwill also distribute a flyer urgingpatients to mix unused medication withused cat litter. If patients are not catowners, they can mix the medicationwith coffee grounds, dog feces, or evensawdust. The contents should then besealed in a plastic bag before puttingthem out for the trash.
The concern, however, pertains to howto dispose of any medication. In the past,patients had been informed that theyshould flush old drugs down the toilet—amethod that is no longer recommendedunless the prescription specifically islabeled for flushing.
Unfortunately, "we don't have a silverbullet," commented Joe Starinchak of theUS Fish and Wildlife Service. He calls thelatest disposal recommendation methodinterim advice—the top recommendationuntil further research can determine thebest way to balance human health, environmental,and legal issues.