Wisely Dispose of Medicines
Wisely Dispose of Medicines
  • Jeong Ha-jin
  • 승인 2022.11.21 14:24
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A medicine collection box at Eunkyul Pharmacy (Photo by reporter Jeong Ha-jin)
A medicine collection box at Eunkyul Pharmacy (Photo by reporter Jeong Ha-jin)

  Do you throw away unused medicines in the trash? You may have experienced difficulties when dealing with unused or expired pills. According to a Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service survey in 2018, 55.2% answered that medicine was disposed of in trash cans, drains, and toilets. It contrasts with the rate of return to pharmacies and health centers, is 8.0%. Disposed medicines should be incinerated, not thrown in a landfill. Few people are practicing the correct disposal method. Wrong disposal methods cause soil and water pollution. By continuing incorrect disposal, ecosystem disturbance can happen. It also makes antibiotics exposed to land and water. That pollution will affect human health. The Han River in Seoul ranks 43rd in medicine concentrations among 137 rivers worldwide. The environmental pollution caused by medicine is not a story of remote countries.
  How to dispose of unused or expired medicine properly? Pills should be separated from wrappers and put together. Powdered medicines should be disposed of in the unopened medicine bag. Liquid medicines should be collected in one place, with sprays and ointments taken as they are. All of these can then be discarded in collection boxes located in community health centers, pharmacies, and community centers.
  In the United States, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website provides information on nearby collection sites and pick-up days. People can dispose of medicines at pharmacies and hospitals. Moreover, there is a mail-back program upon request of disabled people or homebound residents. In France, the government implemented a Cyclamed program - where pharmacies pick up medicines. Using Cyclamed, France collected 10,675 tons in 2018, reflecting high French participation. Korea collected only 376 tons.
  The Yeungnam Observer asked Cha So-young, a pharmacist at the Eunkyul Pharmacy near Yeungnam University, about medicine collection. He said, “Students and residents near YU usually collect medicines at the pharmacy. They seem to practice right medicine disposal.” After the pharmacy’s unused and expired medicines brought by residents gather in the collection box, the pharmacist helps dispose of them at the community health center. He said: “The pharmacy door is open. Do not hesitate to bring your unusable medicine to the pharmacy.”


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