What to do with recalled meds?

    Johnson and Johnson has recalled forty three medications that may be inaccurately dosed or contaminated. So what do you do if you have some of these in your medicine cabinet?

    A pharmaceutical plant in Fort Washington Pennsylvania remains idled after the owner – Johnson and Johnson – found dozens of different medications did not meet quality standards. People have been told to either return the medications to the drug store for a refund, or throw them out.

    Michelle Lauer is a nurse in Delaware, and a member of the environmental group Nurses Healing Our Planet. She says, if there are unused or expired medications lying around…

    Lauer: Definitely don’t flush.

    Medication disposal resources:

    disposemymeds.org smarxtdisposal.net Delaware Dept. of Health & Human ServicesPharmaceuticals have made it to the waterways by going down the toilet. Bill Leitzinger is the administrator of the Delaware Office of Occupational Health.

    Leitzinger: From a water contamination problem it hasn’t become a big problem yet. We do have trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in Delaware water…and none of them were close to being hazardous.

    But before it does become a problem, Leitzinger is organizing three medication drop-off events next week. The state will incinerate the medications.

    The FDA recommends mixing medicines with kitty litter or coffee grounds, and throwing it in the regular trash.

    Lauer: That’s to avoid somebody getting into it who shouldn’t be, taking it for perhaps as a recreational drug, or pets getting into it in the garbage or children.

    When trash is put in landfills instead of burned in an incinerator, the medicines can leak out. Pat Epple is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association.

    Epple: Almost all meds even ones from over the counter have some substance in them that could case some harm to the environment in some way…So I think that we’re basically struggling with what to do in this case.

    Some pharmacies will also take back drugs, but it’s not a requirement for them to do so.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal