VANCOUVER, Feb. 2, 2015 /CNW/ - Last year, Metro Vancouver residents returned more than 45,000 kilograms of expired or unused medications to community pharmacies for safe disposal. That's the same weight as almost 10,000 sockeye salmon.
The BC Medications Return Program stops medications from being flushed down the toilet, where they can harm the environment, or from being thrown in the garbage, where they can be found by children or pets who may think pills are candy or treats.
Since launching this awareness campaign in 2008, there has been a dramatic increase in the proper disposal of expired medications throughout Metro Vancouver with a 150 per cent increase in the number of medications returned in the past six years. Last year, around 45,000 kilograms of medications were returned compared to less than 18,000 kilograms in 2008.
"This is heartening news," said Metro Vancouver Board Chair Greg Moore. "It demonstrates just how aware Metro Vancouver residents are about the environmental and health risks of not disposing of medications safely."
The Medications Return Program covers all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, including topical antibiotic and antifungal creams, and natural health products that are orally ingested such as vitamins, minerals, traditional Chinese medicines, herbal products, probiotics, and homeopathic medicines. More than 95 per cent of community pharmacies in BC participate in the program, which is free for all British Columbians.
"Community pharmacies are accessible to everyone and able to accept medication returns at any time," said David Pavan, President of the BC Pharmacy Association. "Pharmacists have been helping to protect their patients and the environment for many years."
"Unused or expired medications can pose health risks to children and other individuals if not disposed of properly," said Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Health Officer and Vice President, Public Health for Vancouver Coastal Health. "I'd encourage everyone to return these medications to their local pharmacy for safe disposal."
Any liquid or cream medications should be kept in their original container with any personal information removed or blacked out, and solid medications like pills should be combined into a small bag. For more information, visit www.healthsteward.ca.
The BCPhA is a not-for-profit, voluntary association, representing more 3,000 pharmacists and more than 850 pharmacies throughout British Columbia.
Metro Vancouver delivers regional services, planning and political leadership on behalf of 21 municipalities, one Electoral Area and one Treaty First Nation. MetroVancouverRecycles.org is an online guide to more than 1,400 locations in the region where you can donate, recycle or appropriately dispose of those items you no longer want.
SOURCE British Columbia Pharmacy Association
For further information: Media Contacts: Elise Steeves, Communications Manager, BC Pharmacy Association, [email protected], 604-269-2866; Jean Kavanagh, Communications Specialist, Metro Vancouver, [email protected], 604.451.6697 (office), 604.314.5964 (cell)