Recycling prescription drugs in Ohio

A New York Times article that appeared in the Sunday, October 11 Plain Dealer included this interesting paragraph:

In some states, prescriptions for noncontrolled substances — those with vastly lower risks for misuse and addiction — are collected and redistributed to those in need. Social services officials in Tulsa, Okla., have about 20 retired doctors who retrieve surplus prescription drugs from dozens of area long-term-care facilities and take them to a pharmacy where they are checked, sorted and donated to low-income residents.

What a wonderful idea, I thought. And why don’t we do that in Ohio?

So I mounted my high horse and wrote four hundred indignant words challenging Ohio to emulate Oklahoma and develop such a program.

Then, just to be safe, I googled “donate unused prescription drugs Ohio,.” and am I ever glad I did. I saved myself one big embarrassment, because Ohio authorized such a program in 2003.

The program authorizes the donation of prescription drugs by only a pharmacy, drug manufacturer, health care facility, or government entity, not by individuals. And the drugs may be dispensed (not sold) by a pharmacy, hospital, or nonprofit clinic to eligible individuals only.

Want to learn more?

  • For general information about the drug repository program, see this page on the Ohio Health Care Association website.
  • For legal specifications for the program, see Section 3715.87 of the Ohio Revised Code.
  • For a history of drug repository programs in Ohio and other states, see this page on the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

When my doctor takes me off a prescription, I’m still stuck with the leftovers, but now I don’t feel so bad about it. I understand why I can’t donate them — once the drug leaves the pharmacy, it’s lost its integrity. So I take them to one of our local Lake County drug drop-off sites. (Cuyahoga County has a similar program: see Disposal of Medicine & Needles on the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District’s website.)

Recycling prescription medications: a Zero Waste program that works for Ohio

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