BC Medications Return Program Targets Expired, Unwanted Medicines

OTTAWA, July 25, 2017 /CNW/ - Most homes have them. They rest inconspicuously in a cluttered drawer. Or, hidden on a shelf behind your favorite cologne. Often, they are sheltered in the mirrored medicine cabinet as we floss. They are the expired or unused medications of aches and pains long forgotten.

In British Columbia, 22 percent of householders say they have unwanted or expired medications in their home. Sixty-seven percent of them said they took these medications to a local pharmacy, according to a survey by The Stewardship Agencies of BC. The survey was conducted to assess consumer awareness of 'Take Back' programs like the BC Medications Return Program managed by the Health Products Stewardship Association (HPSA).

Seventy-five percent of respondents said they were aware that a 'Take Back' program existed, compared with 63 per cent in 2013. Participation in the medications return program also increased to 58 per cent, from 44 per cent in 2013.

This is encouraging news for the industry-funded HPSA, which has overseen the return program for 20 years. However, 26 percent reported that they still threw medications in the garbage and 13 percent reported that they disposed of them in a sink or toilet. This means more work needs to be done to keep these products out of landfills and local water sources.

"The service is free. It takes but a few minutes to put these medications into a bag before you go out shopping and dropping them off with your pharmacist," said Ginette Vanasse, HPSA's Executive Director. "It keeps them out of the hands of young children and curious pets or the temptation of adventurous teens; and doing this ensures these products are disposed of in a safe and environmentally-friendly way."

HPSA's BC program comprises a network of 1,221 participating pharmacies in the province. Once returned medications are received by the pharmacist, HPSA arranges for their collection and safe disposal in accordance with strict guidelines and regulations. Of those that use the service, 90 percent said it was a convenient option and they trusted the HPSA's 'Take Back' program would safely dispose of their unwanted products.

In 2016, 88.7 tonnes of expired or unused medications were collected and safely disposed of through the BC Medications Return Program. The Health Products Stewardship Association (HPSA) is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association. It manages similar 'Take Back' programs in Manitoba, Ontario and Prince Edward Island.


SOURCE Health Products Stewardship Association (HPSA)

For further information: Reference: Ginette Vanasse, (613) 723-7282, gvanasse@healthsteward.ca, www.healthsteward.ca


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