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Study: Trash Old, Unused Drugs

Medication 'Take-Back' Programs Ill Conceived, Researchers Say

Drug Disposal Safety Questions Remain

While environmental concerns remain about the impact of flushing any drugs, the FDA notes that there is as yet no solid evidence linking flushing to specific risks in humans.

And scientists with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have not yet found evidence of adverse effects on human health associated with drug residues in the environment.

Skerlos says that since more than half of people in the U.S. already throw their unused drugs in the trash, asking them to take part in drug take-back programs could have significant downsides, including increased inconvenience, longer drug storage in the home, and higher costs to society.

Skerlos and colleagues estimate that a nationwide drug take-back program would cost $2 billion a year.

They write that re-evaluation of drug disposal options may become necessary as our understanding of the environmental impact of these options increases.

The study appears online in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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