Toss unused prescription medications
I have a half-dozen containers of unused prescription drugs. Is there anywhere I can donate them?
Private individuals, by law, are not allowed to donate their unused prescription drugs because of safety and liability concerns.
"We realize unused prescription drugs from private individuals are an untapped resource," said Lynn Nakasone, program manager of the state Department of Health's Food and Drug Branch. "However, once the drug is dispensed to a private individual, the chain of custody is broken, and issues regarding proper storage, differing expiration dates, possible tampering, etc., make the donation process problematical."
You are advised to properly dispose of the medications so they cannot be used by anyone else.
In December the state Department of Health responded to the state Legislature's request to "report the implementation and operation of the prescription-drug repository program and drug donations."
In its report, the Health Department noted that the Medicine Bank in Hawaii is the only prescription-drug repository program in Hawaii, and that organization does not have the space or personnel to accept all the drug donations that are allowed legally.
The Medicine Bank currently accepts only surplus manufacturers' drug samples in the original, unopened packaging, with intact labels, or samples donated by physicians. The samples are then given to health clinics in the state for use by "needy individuals."
State law also allows the Medicine Bank to receive donated drugs in unopened, single-user units prescribed for a single patient from institutional facilities.
Nakasone said there is some potential for expanding drug donations under Chapter 328-C of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (which deals with donations of pharmaceuticals and health supplies), "if, for example, the Medicine Bank was somehow placed in a better position to take advantage of the full potential of the drug donation stream."
In 2004 the Legislature provided for "return-for-credit-and-reuse of prescription drugs," with no details, under Chapter 328-B, with the proviso that "this chapter shall not be implemented until certain administrative rules are adopted." At this point there are no rules.
Without implementing the rules, "we cannot determine the effectiveness of the return-for-credit-and-reuse program," Nakasone said. Until it can be evaluated, "we feel it is premature to suggest legislation" on expanding drug donations, she said.
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