Disposable Pouch Could Lead to Improved Medication Disposal

Deterra dissolves unused medications and can then be disposed of in the garbage.

The lack of safe disposal for prescription medication recently came under scrutiny due to a lack of protocols and programs for doing so safely.

Some individuals store medications in their home, which could potentially lead to addiction to opioid substances. Others, however, flush old medication down the toilet, which has been shown to greatly effect local ecosystems.

In Manatee, FL, studies have discovered Paxil and Xanax in fish, which people then eat. Manatee is 1 of 4 Florida coalitions taking part in a pilot program that allows individuals to dispose of medications in a safe way, according to the Bradenton Herald.

The program, Deterra, provides the coalitions with a medication neutralizing pouch. The pouch neutralizes unused and unwanted medications to protect the environment and prevent substance abuse.

There have been 12,500 pouches given out for free at public events. The pouch is composed of biodegradable materials, with a carbon-based material inside the neutralizes the medication once exposed to water, making it safe to dispose of in the trash, according to the Herald.

A single pouch can absorb up to 90 pills, 12 ounces of liquid medication, and 12 patches. According to Deterra, any medications put in the pouch will dissolve in water and become deactivated.

The medication’s molecules bond to the carbon and stop being physiologically active. The process can be immediate for some medication types, but typically does not take longer than 24 to 48 hours.

Once the process is completed, the pouch with the dissolved medications can be placed in the garbage. Even if the bag breaks, Deterra states that in a “wash out” test, 98.7% of the medication remained protected even when exposed to additional fresh water.

This disposable pouch has the potential to reduce environmental impacts from improper disposal or medication and could also reduce overdoses.