How to dispose of liquid opiates

CHICOPEE, Mass.(WWLP)-People looking to dispose of drugs in liquid form may be surprised to find out that the government approves of them being flushed down the drain.

The 22News I-Team received several calls recently from viewers who attempted to dispose of liquid opiates at local drug take back programs in April. They said that after being turned away they had contacted doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies and local and state health departments and were told to pour them down the sink.

The 22News I-Team contacted the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the FDA (Federal Drug Administration). Indeed, flushing these drugs is the legal way for private citizens to dispose of these drugs. Medical facilities and dispensaries have regulated and legally mandated disposal methods.

According to a statement from the FDA sent to the 22News I-Team:

Some people are questioning the practice of flushing certain medicines because of concerns about trace levels of drug residues found in surface water, such as rivers and lakes, and in some community drinking water supplies. “The main way drug residues enter water systems is by people taking medicines and then naturally passing them through their bodies,” says Raanan Bloom, Ph.D., an environmental assessment expert in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Bloom goes on to say “many drugs are not completely absorbed or metabolized by the body and can enter the environment after passing through waste water treatment plants.”

“While FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency take the concerns of flushing certain medicines in the environment seriously, there has been no indication of environmental effects due to flushing,” says Bloom. In addition, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, scientists to date have found no evidence of adverse human health effects from drug residues in the environment. “Nonetheless, FDA does not want to add drug residues into water systems unnecessarily,” says Hunter. The agency reviewed its drug labels to identify products with disposal directions recommending flushing down the sink or toilet. This continuously revised listing can be found at FDA’s Web page on Disposal of Unused Medicines.

The FDA’s position on disposal of opiates, including liquid opiates, may be found here (flushing): Medicines Recommended for Disposal by Flushing:

FAQ on drug disposal:

Consumer Update on the topic:

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