Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist April 2015 Contents Australian Pharmacist April 2015 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
the specific manufacturer should be
required to modify/enhance/improve
their processes to prevent discharges
of their own effluent from containing
unacceptable levels of chemicals used to
manufacture their pharmaceuticals.
'This concept is similar to testing smoke
stacks to prevent air pollution.
'The party responsible for pollution
should be required to fund remediation
or install equipment or processes that
reduce or eliminate the pollution.'
A major source of pharmaceutical
pollution and contamination in the
environment comes from consumers
flushing or rinsing their unwanted drugs
down toilets and drains.
However, there are alternatives and
in Australia, the Return Unwanted
Medicines (RUM) Project provides for
unwanted and out-of-date medicines to
be collected by community pharmacies
and then disposed of by high
temperature incineration, which is the
EPA approved method of disposal.
Dr Rai Kookana said projects such as
RUM were useful.
'But to be frank we need greater
awareness about it,' he said.
'I know it exists but I haven't come
across many people who are aware of
it and I think we need to address that.
We need to do more about that and PSA
and researchers should put their heads
together on this.
'That's one thing that we can easily
do and furthermore it is a lot cheaper
option than trying to remove these
compounds during the treatment stage.'
Chair of the RUM program, Warwick
Plunkett, said nearly all pharmacies
throughout Australia voluntarily
participated in the scheme.
He said the program was recommended
and supported by the Pharmacy Board
of Australia and was a requirement for
Quality Care Pharmacy Program (QCPP)
Most pharmacies returned between one
and 100 four-litre bins a month through
their wholesaler who all took part on a
'The program began in 1998 as a
Commonwealth Government program
with an annual funding grant of
$1 million,' Mr Plunkett said.
'Collections have grown from just over
100 tonnes to now over 700 tonnes per
annum while funding has increased to
only $2.5 million a year.
'As such the program has always tended
to be underfunded -- supplementary
grants have been made on six occasions
-- which has not allowed for funding
of any significant public promotion
'In 2002 a grant was received from the
Environmental Ministry of the NSW
Government of $600,000 for public
promotion which saw the quantity
of returned medicines in NSW jump
50% that year.
'Obviously there is a large amount of
latent need for unwanted medicine
collection which would require a
much higher level of program funding
'Although the cost of collection and
destruction of unwanted medicines
represents a cost of only 0.025% of the
cost to government of dispensing those
medicines, successive governments
have not seen merit in investing further
in this process.'
Mr Plunkett said a small research project
undertaken by the Monash School
of Pharmacy a year ago reviewed a
representative sample of the returned
bins and found the bins were more than
93% full on average, with 44% of the
returned medicines not expired. Insulin,
salbutamol, paracetamol, frusemide
and glyceryl trinitrate were the top five
He said: 'Some important conclusions
for the Government on the medicine
consumption and hoarding habits of
Australian consumers could be drawn
from the type and quantity of returned
unused medicines found in this type
'The results also suggested more
significant professional role for
pharmacists in the monitoring and
management of prescribed medicines
would be cost effective.'
Australia is ahead of some areas of
the US in providing a scheme for
disposal of unwanted medicines, a
situation being tackled by US advocate,
Mr McAbee said: 'a free and convenient
method of disposal has not been
available to the general public, but is
just starting to emerge here in the
'The first step (changing the federal
laws and regulations) has been
accomplished. The second step involves
changing the laws and regulations of
each State (New York State is in the
process of changing its regulations).
'The third step is to install
pharmaceutical collection receptacles
in retail pharmacies which is easier said
Mr McAbee said he was working
towards having his Big Red Box program
accepted nationally in the US.
RUM v US Drug Enforcement Administration's regulations.
RUM US DEA regulations
May the container/receptacle be accessible by the public? no
Must the container/ receptacle be permanently secured to
the pharmacy building (i.e. bolted to the floor or wall)?
May unwanted medications be handed to the pharmacist
or pharmacy staff?
Links Archive Australian Pharmacist March 2015 Australian Pharmacist May 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page