Blog by Mark Wolfe, Customer Account Representative, GrandView Pharmacy

Lately it seems that many Assisted Living facilities are asking for help in disposing expired, outdated or discontinued medications that their assisted living and independent living residents accumulate over time. Being responsible and properly disposing of pharma waste is important not only for the environment but also for your business, your employees and the community.

Many times, we hear of people disposing of their medications by simply flushing them down the toilet at home or in their apartment. This is not appropriate for all medications. By flushing them down the toilet, the chemicals in these medications then make entry into the local communities’ water system. This poses a potential hazard to everyone’s drinking water supply. Burying them in the back yard is also not advised as the medications still enter the ground water tables, once again causing an issue to the environment.

Continuing Care Retirement Centers have many residents in various LTC communities taking numerous medications. Many of these medications end up being discontinued. By leaving these medications with the residents there is a possibility that thy might continue using them. This could be potentially harmful, especially since their physicians have asked for them to discontinue use of that medication. Also, it would advisable to collect them so neighbors do no give these meds to others. Therefore, it is essential these medications are disposed of properly. Doing so keeps the intended recipient from no longer using them or from allowing anyone else to gain access to them. It also ensure the medications have been disposed of in a manner to be environmentally acceptable, by not burying them in the yard or flushing them down the toilet.

There are a number of ways that one can dispose of old medications. Check with your local police department, fire stations, hospitals or pharmacy. Many retail pharmacies have kiosks within their store locations intended for this precise purpose. They accept prescription medications, ointments and patches; over the counter medications, ointments, lotions and liquids; pet medications; Vitamins; Aerosol cans; and inhalers. However, they will not accept needles/syringes; thermometers, Hydrogen Peroxide, or illegal drugs. CVS, Meijer and Walgreens are three well-known retail pharmacies that offer this service. Check with your local retail pharmacy to find out if they do the same. One such source is the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Drug Disposal Locator to find a location near you in order to dispose.

You might also consider donating your unused, unexpired prescription medications. This might be a viable option, considering the amount of medications that go to waste each year in the United State: $5 billion worth per year according to Kiah Williams, co-founder of Sirum, a non-profit organization that helps collect & redistribute surplus medications from residents in retirement communities, to name just one source of collect. However, this is not as simple as rounding up pill bottles and dropping them off at local charities. Rules and opportunities vary from state to state. (1), July 10, 2019; Dawn Weinberger. Sirum provides information on such donation programs, but they do not facilitate donations between individuals and the organizations that provide them to people in need. Better yet, ask if your retirement community would hold such an event. It is within their interest to keep their residents safe and many facilities offer this service. So check with your facility administrator.

GrandView Pharmacy has also offered these type value-added services to continuing care retirement communities. Contact your GrandView Pharmacy Account Manager for more information and how to set up such a program at your community.



About the Author

Click here to learn more about Mark and the rest of the GrandView team.