Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Old and Unused Meds for Fuel!

I have to look into this when I have the time, but it sounds pretty neat and a good way to use unfilled and returned medication. The article repeats the facts from the NCPIE report and uses some local stats that I am not including - just the mention of these programs from the Waldo County Citizen:

Prescriptions: Alternative Fuel by Patrick Walsh

I was surprised to read in a recent Associated Press article that a company called Capital Returns was generating electricity from burning outdated or recalled prescription drugs. These are unused drugs from pharmacies and manufacturers. With 28 percent of the “returns market,” this company was able to generate enough electricity to power 220 homes last year. The company figures that only about 1 percent of unused or recalled drugs are returned, but that 1 percent has a value of $4 billion to $5 billion.......

.....The lack of compliance, coupled with the lack of a system for consumers to return unused drugs, led to an innovative program being developed by the Maine Benzodiazepine Study Group and the Center on Aging at the University of Maine.

Funded by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, the project will provide for return of drugs by mail and proper disposal. The EPA is involved because the prevailing practice of “flushing” unused drugs has caused a negative impact on water quality.

Unused drugs also have been diverted to the black market and represent a source for youth drawn to what they see as a “safe” drug alternative to illegal street drugs.

In looking at youth substance-use issues, we have heard about “pharm” or “Skittles” parties where youth as young as middle school age take their chances on prescription drugs dumped in a bowl. These may come from the family medicine cabinet and may be designed to control blood pressure, blood sugar, for pain management or who knows?In a related item, a bill presented to the Maine Legislature this session that would have outlawed any pharmaceutical advertising that made a false claim or “contains language recommending that viewers, listeners or readers ask physicians about any specific prescription drug” was declared dead May 17.

So we will continue to hear “ask your doctor” on every other ad during the evening news. And as a result, some of us may end up with very expensive medications that we don’t want and that could end up as fuel to generate electricity.

Now, consider that Waldo and Knox counties share the highest rate of drug prescriptions written in Maine — one per person, or more than 50,000 per year in each county — according to an analysis by the State Prescription Monitoring Program.

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