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Safe drug disposal pilot launched

BY: Justice Agbenorsi
Mrs Delese Darko
Mrs Delese Darko

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), in collaboration with the Community Practice Pharmacist Association, has launched a pilot programme to ensure the safe disposal of unused or expired drugs in the hands of consumers in the country.

The project, which has been dubbed; “Take Back Unwanted Medicines (TBUM), will be rolled out with 50 selected Community Practice pharmacists and pharmacies in the Greater Accra Region before scaling it up to the entire country.

At a brief ceremony to launch the project in Accra last Monday, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FDA, Mrs Delese Darko, observed that as the country’s population increased, the amount of unused and expired medicines in the hands of consumers grew by the day, adding that “no matter how well we believe we store our medicines, they cannot last several years without problems”.

“They can expire or sometimes primary packages like blister packs can become torn or damaged, exposing the medication and using medicines in these conditions could do more harm than good,” she said.

Safety

She explained that one of the motives behind the project was to protect public health and safety, stating that proper disposal of medicines would prevent them from getting into the hands of people such as young children and curious teenagers who did not need them.

According to Mrs Darko, the absence of publicly known and easily accessible means of disposing medicines left consumers with no safe options which posed a huge challenge to the country’s water supply system hence the project.

“It is a well-known fact that people dispose their medicines by flushing them, emptying them in the sink or down other drains or simply throwing them in the bin.

“Medicines like birth control pills, opioid analgesics and antibiotics may end up in the community water supply system into the ground water or landfills,” she stated.

Mrs Darko noted that although treatment systems were designed to remove foreign substances from water before introducing them back to the public water supply system, the processes may not remove medicinal residues.

She added that pharmaceutical related chemicals had been found in waterways and drinking water in some countries since waste water that resulted from treatment returned to the environment, a situation which she said was harmful the public.

Next phase

Mrs Darko revealed that community pharmacies had been provided with safely located containers where members of the public could drop their unused or expired medicines for safe disposal.

The next phase of the project, she said, would be expanded to include pharmacies and over-the-counter (OTC) medicine shops in other regions.

She further called on companies to partner with the FDA and community pharmacies in ensuring that the populace was protected from the dangers of improper medicine disposal.

“I beseech all consumers to support this initiative and drive to safely dispose all unwholesome, damaged and expired medicines from home,” Mrs Darko added.