FDA pilots programme for safe disposal of expired drugs

The FDA says this is to save the public from consuming expired and unused medicines and to assist pharmacies to dispose of expired medicines

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) is piloting a programme – “Take Back Unwanted Medicines (TBUM)” to ensure safe disposal of unused or expired drugs in the system.

The pilot project is to target consumers in the Greater Accra Region before scaling up to the whole country to include retail outlets such as pharmacies and over the counter medicine shops.

Vigil Prah Eshun, head of drugs market surveillance department of the FDA, said the quantity of unused and expired medications in the hands of consumers in the country is a growing concern.

Improper drugs disposal

He said: “consumers receive a variety of medicines including supplements (either through prescriptions or over-the-counter) which they tend to retain in their homes for a long time.

“These drugs need to be safely disposed of with time. Proper disposal of drugs significantly reduces its negative and toxic effects on our environment and also prevents them from getting into the hands of people who do not need them, thereby protecting public health and safety,” he added.

Eshun said the absence of a publicly known and easily assessable means of disposing of prescription and over the counter medicines, therefore, pose a big challenge to the environment, especially the water supply system.

He said it is a known fact that people might flush down the toilet unused or expired birth control pills, opioid analgesics, antibiotics and other medicines which might end up into the community water supply system, “since these substances can leach into our water bodies.”

“Traces of medicines from human prescriptions have been found in plants, fish, and other animals that drink or swim in lakes, streams, and oceans, hence, genetic alterations in plants, fish, and animals have been observed and reported” he added.

Eshun said the goal of the TBUM is to ensure the safe disposal of unwanted medicines including expired and unused medications by consumers.

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