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 Hospitals flushing unused narcotics FDA recommends procedure to curb illegal use of pain relievers such as morphine

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PostSubject: Hospitals flushing unused narcotics FDA recommends procedure to curb illegal use of pain relievers such as morphine   Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:11 am

Hospitals flushing unused narcotics

FDA recommends procedure to curb illegal use of pain relievers such as morphine

By Ben Sutherly, Staff Writer
Updated 9:51 AM Tuesday, December 7, 2010

DAYTON — Local hospital workers routinely pour small amounts of unused drugs such as morphine and methadone down the drain. They do so largely out of concern those controlled substances could be retrieved and abused.

The practice has some environmental groups concerned about the potential long-term effect trace amounts of the drugs could have on wildlife and humans. But in the midst of what Gov. Ted Strickland has described as an “epidemic” of prescription drug abuse, others say such disposal methods are justified.

Local hospitals with both Premier Health Partners and Kettering Health Network put small amounts of such drugs down the drain and require a witness to that act. Miami Valley Hospital no longer disposes of drugs at risk of being diverted for abuse into sharps containers in which used medical needles are disposed. Those excess drugs are flushed instead, a spokeswoman said. The policy was changed several years ago, she said.

Kettering Health Network, whose hospitals include Kettering and Grandview medical centers, is considering a policy change that would require clinical workers who dispose of pharmaceuticals in sharps containers to first squirt liquid drugs into the container, making them more difficult to recover, a spokesman said.

Miami Valley and Kettering Health Network document individual quantities of drugs that are dumped down the drain, but don’t sum those quantities, making it difficult to determine the volume of drugs put down the drain.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends the flushing of drugs, such as powerful narcotic pain relievers, to curb the risk of unintentional use, overdose, or illegal abuse. The agency claims the bulk of drug residues entering waterways do so after people naturally pass medications through their bodies without fully metabolizing them.

“The drugs in the water are coming from us; they’re not coming from a few doses that are flushed,” said Bill Winsley, executive director of the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency defers to the FDA on the issue, EPA spokeswoman Linda Oros said.

The Ohio Environmental Council, an environmental advocacy group, strongly recommends pharmaceuticals not be flushed, even when permitted. “We need to be reducing the sources of pharmaceuticals and other personal care items from every source,” said Ellen Mee, the OEC’s environmental health policy director.

This comes from the Dayton Daily News and the original link is

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/dayton-news/hospitals-flushing-unused-narcotics-1022673.html



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