What to do with 2 million pounds of outdated prescription medicine?
To keep it out of the hands of addicts and children who might try to experiment with it, the Pennsylvania Drug Enforcement Administration incinerates it.
Twice annually, the agency collects and burns unused or expired medicine for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.
During the past three years, agency officials estimate they have destroyed more than 2 million pounds of medicine, also destroying the chance it may be consumed irresponsibly.
Expired medication is dangerous because, if taken in an emergency, it may not work as it should. Also, forgetting about it in a bathroom cabinet means it could be used abusively, said Nina Taggart, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s chief medical officer.
In a 2010 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services survey, 55 percent of those older than age 12 who reported using medicine without a prescription admitted they got it from a friend or family member, many of them without permission.
Throwing medicine in the garbage makes it possible for it to be used again, said Kara Malitsky, Blue Cross’s pharmacy management director. She said a formal disposal day gets rid of it cleanly.
“You know that there couldn’t be a chance for diversion … a chance for (the medicine) to fall and be picked up by someone who doesn’t know how to use it properly,” Malitsky said.
Disposal is anonymous and free.
The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.