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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Offers Consumer Tips for Safe Disposal of Prescription Drugs
Date:2/3/2010

Simple Steps Can Keep Public Water Supplies Drug-free

CHICAGO, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Across the nation, people believe prescription and over-the-counter drugs should be banned from U.S. wastewater systems. Judging by growing efforts, the day may be near. Anti-drug dumping laws are pending in a few states, and "take-back" centers have sprung up in 28 Illinois counties.

While formal efforts pick up steam, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois medical director Elif Oker, M.D., says everyone must be environmentally responsible. "There are guidelines from the FDA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy with consumer tips on how to properly and safely dispose of prescription drugs. Check with your local pharmacy or community drug take-back program."

"Also check package labels or inserts for the latest (safe disposal) instructions specific to a medication," says Oker, whose specialties include toxicology and emergency medicine. "Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet or drain unless the package label instructs you to do so. Take drugs out of their original containers. Mix with kitty litter or used coffee grounds. Put the mix into a sealable container. Make sure packaging doesn't have any personal identifiers."

Oker says traces of drugs and personal products contaminants that routinely turn up in public and private water supply studies is really one aspect of the management of medical waste. Traditionally, we think of hospitals, doctors' offices and research labs as main producers of medical waste. "Quoting the World Health Organization, 'Waste generated by health care activities includes a broad range of materials, from used needles and syringes to soiled dressings, body parts, diagnostic samples, blood, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and radioactive
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SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
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