Tri-Cities takes part in drug drop-off campaign

Program encourages return of unused or expired medication to pharmacies to protect abuse by kids

Tri-Cities residents can help reduce the drug abuse, overdoses and accidental poisonings from teens using prescription drugs by participating in the second annual national drug drop-off month during August.

The Drugs Free Kids Canada program encourages securing prescriptions and returning all unused or expired medications to pharmacies.

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“Many prescription drugs that have a high potential for misuse come from the medicine cabinets of friends and families. Whether intentional or accidental, ingestion of these prescription drugs is a very real risk to the health of British Columbians,” said pharmacist Gianni Del Negro in a London Drugs press release. “Cleaning out your medicine cabinet and safely disposing of unused and expired medications at the pharmacy is a simple way we can all help reduce the potential harms of prescription drugs.”

According to the release, more than 86,000 kg of medications were safely disposed of in British Columbia after being dropped off at pharmacies.

“The returned amounts have continued to increase as more parents are becoming aware of the importance of returning unused drugs left in the medicine cabinet as they can easily be accessed by children and can harm our kids,” said Chantal Vallerand, DFK Canada executive director.

Most pharmacies, including London Drugs, accept unused medication for safe disposal year round. The release noted many medications, over-the-counter products and health supplements remain in homes long after their expiry dates.

According to the London Drugs press release, tips for cleaning out the medicine cabinet include:

• Check expiration dates annually and remove products that are expired. Some products can expire before the date on the label once opened. When in doubt, ask a pharmacist.

• Remove any medication not in its original container. If you can’t remember what a medication is for or who it was for, get rid of it. As much as possible, keep medication in its original packaging. Mixing different medications in the same container or storing them outside of their original packaging increases the likelihood of accidental overdose or poisonings.

• Place unwanted and expired drugs in a clear plastic bag. Medications in blister packs and forms of liquid and cream medications can also be included in the plastic bag. They will be incinerated, which prevents them from entering landfills or the sewer system.

Other pharmacies in the Tri-Cities participating in the program include those at Shopper’s Drug Mart, Save-On-Foods, Walmart and Thrifty Foods as well as Town Centre Pharmacy in Coquitlam and Synergy Wellness, Wilson Pharmacy and Westwood Pharmacy in Port Coquitlam.

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