GEORGE NEWS - A resident of Thembalethu came across a black bag full of disposed medical waste in an open area in her neighbourhood. It seemed as if the medication was dumped by a community member.
The resident is concerned that vulnerable children and livestock have easy access to this waste medication, which can lead to death or other medical conditions.
Idinga sincerely asks the community not to dispose of medication in public areas and to ensure they know how to dispose of medication properly.
Here are some tips on how to dispose of medical waste:
Check the instructions
Sometimes they'll provide guidance to dispose of the particular medication in the best way. If you don't have the instructions, see if you can find them online, or call the company that manufactures the drug to find out.
Disposing the medication into the water supply is not a good idea, especially if you have a septic system - drugs can leach into the water table, turn up in nearby lakes or streams, and even on your own property.
This is dangerous as any child could find it and eat it.
Medications can also end up in the water system by being passed through the body in the form of urine or faeces.
The only medications that can safely be flushed down the toilet are:
- fentanyl (Duragesic Transdermal System)
- fentanyl buccal tablet (Fentora)
- fentanyl citrate (Actiq)
- Morphine sulfate (Avinza capsules)
- Methylphenidate (Daytrana Transdermal Patch)
- Meperidine HCl tablets (Demerol)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin tablets)
- Oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet)
- Sodium oxybate (Xyrem)
Find out about disposal options in your area
- Call a local pharmacy to find out if they can dispose of your medication. Most pharmacies in South Africa have an unused medication disposal programme that the pharmacies themselves use to dispose of outdated medications.
- Call your local refuse removal service - they might have household waste facilities that will incinerate the medication.
- Contact your local hospital, clinic, or medical centre, who will place unused medications into their biohazard containers for incineration. All hospitals have this option, so there is never a need to toss or flush unused medication.
If your only option is to throw the medication in the trash, then do everything you can to make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.
Not only is this a concern if people might pick through your trash (whether in your neighbourhood, or at a landfill, or anywhere in between), but it is also dangerous for children, pets, and wild animals.
- Take pills out of containers so people don't know what they are.
- Crush the pills.
- Mix the pills with undesirable substances, like kitty litter.
- If the medication is liquid, mix it with sawdust or flour.
Check the expiry date
Expiry dates of over-the-counter medications often mean only that the medications may have lost a minute degree of their potency. Check with your pharmacist as to whether unused expired medications such as antibiotics are actually dangerous to take.
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