Economic consequences of unused medications in Houston, Texas

Kevin W Garey, Mikki L Johle, Kathy Behrman, Melinda M Neuhauser
Annals of Pharmacotherapy 2004, 38 (7): 1165-8

BACKGROUND: It is likely that a large amount of unused and outdated medications exists in households throughout the US; however, the amount and potential costs of these medications are unknown.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the amount, types, and costs of unused medications present in a neighborhood surrounding a community pharmacy in Houston, Texas.

METHODS: A community trial was conducted between April and September 2002. This pilot study investigated the quantity and types of drugs returned to a community pharmacy over a 6-month period.

RESULTS: During the study period, approximately 17000 oral pills worth over US dollars 26000 were collected in 1315 medication containers. Medications collected were from all drug classes and types (pharmaceutical samples, over-the-counter and prescription drugs).

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that an enormous amount of unused medications were present in a community in the US. Community pharmacies may be an ideal venue to collect and destroy these unused drugs.

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