Pharmaceutical Take-back programs makes disposal safe and easy

Over 250 million pounds of unused dispensed medications are disposed of improperly every year

Approximately four billion prescriptions are dispensed outside of a hospital setting every year. The sheer volume increases when you figure in over-the-counter medications, supplements and pet medications.

A variety of pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, steroids and other toxic substances can now be found in the majority of our groundwater streams and in the drinking water of more than 40 million Americans. More than 250 million pounds of unused dispensed medications are disposed of improperly each year, says David Tusa, President and CEO of Sharps Compliance Inc.

Sharps, a leading medical waste management company, has created a nationwide, easy-access solution to capture the enormous volume of unused medications, used syringes and medical waste generated outside of hospital and large healthcare settings.

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New kit will help keep pharmaceuticals out of our water

Prescription drugsOn March 10, 2008, MSNBC’s website read:

“Pharmaceuticals lurking in U.S. drinking water … AP probe found traces of meds in water supplies of 41 million Americans”

More stories have since revealed how extensive the problem’s  become. The real ramifications of prescription drugs in the water we drink hasn’t been fully determined but this news is certainly enough to scare the heck out of most of us.

Leave it to the ingenuity of a pharmacist and an engineer to come up with a viable solution.

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Eli Lilly achieves energy efficiency goals 2 years early

El iLill CompanyEli Lilly and Company, a worldwide pharmaceutical company, has reached and surpassed their energy reduction goals two years ahead of schedule.

Although the reductions are modest – cutting absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 4.4 percent, cutting absolute energy use by 5.8 percent from 2004 to 2008 – Lilly did improve their energy use per dollar of sales by 35 percent.

Lilly has set a new goal of reducing GHG emissions by 15 percent by2013, which will cut CO2 emissions by nearly 340,000 metric tons per year.

Lilly’s continuing environmental efforts on a variety of fronts include:

  • reducing water intake 25 percent by 2013
  • reducing waste disposed in landfills by 40 percent by 2013

Both are compared to a 2007 baseline.

Kudos to Lilly!

Abbott Laboratories moves towards sustainable packaging

Abbott Lab simagePharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories – maker of such diverse drugs as arthritis treatment Humira, Norvir, a treatment for HIV, and nutritional products such as Ensure – has announced they’re working on 40 types of sustainable packaging that runs across product lines. This project is part of Abbott’s plans to reduce the amount of packaging it uses by 5% in key products by 2013.

“Abbott´s sustainable packaging initiatives will reduce our environmental footprint through less waste in landfills, more responsible forest management and fewer emissions. At the same time, it lowers cost, and, in some cases, reduces shelf space for our customers,” said John Landgraf, senior vice president of pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and supply.

Okay, so 5% is a good start, especially for a pharma giant. And they do seem to have a commitment to sustainability efforts.  But wouldn’t targeting 15-20% make more of a real difference? THAT”S a figure I could get excited about.

Association asks pharmaceutical companies to pay for medical disposal

medicationsThe National Association of Counties has asked pharmaceutical companies to be financial responsible for disposing of unwanted medicines.

The  group would like Big Pharma to handle the expense of taking back prescription and over-the-counter drugs without relying on state or local government funding.

The association says leftover drugs – over-the-counter and perscription – may play a roll in drug abuse and accidental poisonings. It’s documented that improperly disposed of medications contribute to ground and surface water contamination.

“Like Europe and Canada, the United States can develop programs to cover the costs of collecting, transporting and disposing of these medicines. It´s imperative we do so,” said Bill Sheehan, executive director of the Product Policy Institute.

Now let’s see what Big Pharma has to say about it. The “right thing to do” doesn’t often factor in with them.

Pharmaceutical Giants Resist Maine’s “Take it Back” Drive

A recent AP investigation revealed that concentrations of pharmaceuticals are showing up on our nation’s drinking water – everything from antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones.

The state of Maine has had enough.

They want to become the first state to require drug companies to collect and properly dispose of unused medications.  The idea is being cheered by state agencies, public health and environmental advocates.

Rep. Anne Perry, D-Calais, the bill’s sponsor said “there’s a great deal of support. But drug companies don’t want to see this (happen).”

Drug manufacturers would have until January, under Perry’s bill, to establish a system to collect unwanted or expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.  Mainers would also be allowed to mail in unwanted pills and other medications, should this bill become law.

At least 5 states have proposed similar legislation, though none have as yet become law.

Maine already has a first-in-the nation mail-in program, with  mailers available in pharmacies around the state. Success has its drawbacks, however. Some stores have already run out of the envelopes, and the program has run out of funding.

“Unfortunately,” Perry said, “we’re seeing more and more of the (drug) waste getting into our waters. These are side effects of just having all these pills sitting around.”

Pharmaceutical industry representatives argue the cost of such a “take back” program would be upwards of $20 million a year.

Marjorie Powell, senior assistant general counsel for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the bill would do more harm than good.

“We think it’s not necessary and it potentially raises several additional risks,” Powell said.  It would, for example, “make an easy target for theft and lead to increased drug abuse,” she said.

“All of our scientific and some other groups’ studies say if you dispose of unused medicines in the household trash, that is a safe way of disposing it,” Powell said.

Sounds simple, but the reality shows the problem is much larger and complex.

In November 2008, a four-hour medication collection in Brunswick, Maine netted over 16,000 doses of controlled substances such as prescription pain pills and 825 pounds of other medications.

“If we’re getting that much in this little area,” said  Connie Lewis of Harpswell, who helped organize unwanted-medication collections as part of the Merrymeeting Bay TRIAD, “imagine what’s out there.”

Expect drug companies to fight Maine and the other states to prevent something so responsible from becoming law.

Pharmaceutical Giants Resist Maine's "Take it Back" Drive

PharmaceuticalsThe state of Maine has had enough.

A recent AP investigation revealed that concentrations of pharmaceuticals are showing up on our nation’s drinking water – everything from antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones.

Maine wants to become the first state to require drug companies to collect and properly dispose of unused medications. The idea is being cheered by state agencies, public health and environmental advocates.

Rep. Anne Perry, D-Calais, the bill’s sponsor said “there’s a great deal of support. But drug companies don’t want to see this (happen).”

Drug manufacturers would have until January, under Perry’s bill, to establish a system to collect unwanted or expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. Mainers would also be allowed to mail in unwanted pills and other medications, should this bill become law.

At least 5 states have proposed similar legislation, though none have as yet become law.

Maine already has a first-in-the nation mail-in program, with mailers available in pharmacies around the state. Success has its drawbacks, however. Some stores have already run out of the envelopes, and the program has run out of funding.

“Unfortunately,” Perry said, “we’re seeing more and more of the (drug) waste getting into our waters. These are side effects of just having all these pills sitting around.”

Pharmaceutical industry representatives argue the cost of such a “take back” program would be upwards of $20 million a year.

Pharmaceutical industryMarjorie Powell, senior assistant general counsel for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the bill would do more harm than good.

“We think it’s not necessary and it potentially raises several additional risks,” Powell said. It would, for example, “make an easy target for theft and lead to increased drug abuse,” she said.

“All of our scientific and some other groups’ studies say if you dispose of unused medicines in the household trash, that is a safe way of disposing it,” Powell said.

Sounds simple, but the reality shows the problem is much larger and complex.

In November 2008, a four-hour medication collection in Brunswick, Maine netted over 16,000 doses of controlled substances such as prescription pain pills and 825 pounds of other medications.

“If we’re getting that much in this little area,” said Connie Lewis of Harpswell, who helped organize unwanted-medication collections as part of the Merrymeeting Bay TRIAD, “imagine what’s out there.”

Expect drug companies to fight Maine and the other states to prevent something so responsible from becoming law.