Jacquie Ottman's
Green Marketing Blog

A Creative Way to Handle Prescription Drug Disposal

As someone quite involved in issues of product takeback and disposal in general, I became quite alarmed to discover how much Percoset and Vicodin, two controlled substances, were left in our medicine cabinet after my late husband’s bout with cancer.

bottle of tablets

Not wanting to dispose of the drugs in the toilet (for fear they would contaminate local waterways) or in the trash (where the drugs would linger in plastic bags on the sidewalk in front of my Upper East Side NYC coop where they could easily be slashed), I was comforted to find that my neighborhood pharmacy would take them back. In doing so, they warned me that they didn’t have a formal take-back program; even if the drugs wound up in the pharmacy’s trash, I felt that the drugs might be more secure than if handled by my building, and at the very least I was making a statement of customer concern that could lead to action down the road.

Dispense Partial Prescriptions?

I was delighted to read in Environmental Leader today that Congress is on the job.  Read this article for details. However, the issues are complicated and thorny. While they await a solution, I couldn’t help wonder if we might be able to solve the problem, at least part-way, by shifting the disposal issue to the consumption stage: in other words, why not require pharmacists to dispense a prescription for a controlled substance only half-way, giving the patient the right to pick up the remainder when it’s clear the drug will be used.

Think about it. How many times have you or someone you know been sent home from surgery with a prescription for a pain killer that was, happily, used just once or twice. You get my point I’m sure.

As Congress wends its way through what will likely take years of work, let’s in the meantime come up with other creative ideas for solving the drug disposal program. I encourage you to send me your ideas.

Jacquie Ottman, founder and president of the NYC-based J. Ottman Consulting is an expert and consultant to industry and government on green marketing. Her latest book entitled, The New Rules of Green Marketing (Berrett-Koehler 2010) is due out in Fall 2010.  Click here for more details.


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